Fo­sun buys 20% of Cirque du Soleil

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHI JING in Be­jing shi­jing@chi­

Chi­nese pri­vate con­glom­er­ate Fo­sun In­ter­na­tional has broad­ened its busi­ness scope by back­ing the takeover of Canadian cir­cus and en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant Cirque du Soleil.

One of the world’s largest and best-rec­og­nized en­ter­tain­ment brands, Cirque du Soleil reaches an au­di­ence of 150 mil­lion world­wide.

Fo­sun will take a 20 per­cent stake in Cirque du Soleil, while TPG, a lead­ing pri­vate in­vest­ment com­pany based in Texas, will hold the ma­jor­ity 60 per­cent stake in the cir­cus com­pany by closing the deal at about $1.5 bil­lion, Reuters cited in­sid­ers as say­ing on Tues­day.

Canada’s sec­ond-largest pen­sion fund, Caisse de de­pot et place­ment du Que­bec, will hold a 10 per­cent stake and Cirque founder Guy Lal­ib­erte’s fam­ily trust will keep the re­main­ing 10 per­cent. The sale is ex­pected to close in the third quar­ter of the year.

TPG has a suc­cess­ful track record of grow­ing lead­ing brands, in­clud­ing J. Crew and Neiman Mar­cus, which Daniel Lamarre, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Cirque du Soleil, be­lieves will help fuel new growth in the com­pany’s busi­ness to­gether with the other stake­hold­ers.

Although Fo­sun will hold a mi­nor­ity stake, Lamarre thinks the co­op­er­a­tion is im­por­tant in the sense that Fo­sun will help the cir­cus to fur­ther de­velop in China and boost its chances of suc­cess.

Fo­sun had no re­sponse on Tues­day to ear­lier me­dia re­ports that said the first show in China af­ter the deal will be staged in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince. But it did say the first show will be staged in June.

Guo Guangchang, chair­man of Fo­sun In­ter­na­tional, said the co­op­er­a­tion with Cirque du Soleil will pro­vide a ma­jor new growth plat­form within Fo­sun’s life­style ser­vices and con­tent port­fo­lio.

“To date, Fo­sun has es­tab­lished a global pro­to­type for plat­forms that cap­ture life­style trends in China,” Guo said. “Build­ing on top of this model, we aim to be­come one of the global lead­ers in busi­nesses driven by life­style needs, which are tak­ing root quickly in China.”

Guo said last month that Fo­sun will fur­ther its in­vest­ment in the health and life­style sec­tor, roll out ecosys­tem plan­ning and speed up par­tic­i­pa­tion in global in­dus­try con­sol­i­da­tion.

The ground­work for been laid step by step.

Fo­sun took a con­trol­ling stake in US film­mak­ing com­pany Stu­dio 8 in June of last year be­fore ac­quir­ing all of Por­tu­gal’s Luz Saude health­care group four months later.

In Jan­uary, Fo­sun took over the French re­sort chain Club Med for $1.3 bil­lion be­fore tak­ing a 5 per­cent stake in UK tour op­er­a­tor Thomas Cook two months later.

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Cir­cus troupe Cirque du Soleil per­forms the show in Mon­treal, Canada. Chi­nese con­glom­er­ate Fo­sun In­ter­na­tional is to hold a mi­nor­ity stake in the troupe.

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