Cirque du Soleil gets $50 million in emergency funds from main shareholders
05/18/2020|5:48:05 PM|Montreal Gazette

The Cirque du Soleil has received an emergency injection of USD 50 million from its three main shareholders to try to keep it afloat, chairman Mitch Garber said.

The shareholders are American private equity investment firm TPG Capital, Chinese investment company Fosun and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Garber said each put in cash equal to their ownership percentages. That would mean TPG ponied up $27.5 million (55 per cent), Fosun $12.5 million (25 per cent) and the Caisse $10 million (20 per cent).

In late March, the Cirque du Soleil shuttered nearly all of its operations and laid off 95 per cent of its staff, which adds up to 4,679 employees around the world. All of the Cirque’s shows around the globe have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around the same time, Moody’s Investors Service cut the Cirque’s credit rating into junk territory, saying there was a “high risk” the Montreal-based company would default on its debt. The Cirque has debt in the range of USD 900 million, a figure confirmed by Garber.

In an interview Tuesday, Garber said the company is exploring all options, including possibly seeking bankruptcy protection.

On Monday, Québecor announced in a statement that it was interested in trying to “help save the Cirque” and that it would “as a first step, consider extending short-term financing of several tens of millions of dollars to cover payroll for thousands of employees and meet various obligations, such as the outstanding bills of suppliers who have not been paid for months. In phase two, Québecor would be prepared to inject several hundred million dollars to enable the Cirque to resume its activities and ensure its sustainability.”

But Québecor added that to do so, it would need to examine the Cirque’s financial files and that attempts to see the books “have been rebuffed by Cirque management.”

Garber said the Cirque wouldn’t allow Québecor executives to see the numbers because Québecor refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

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