Quebec Government Gives Cirque du Soleil A $200-Million U.S. Bailout

Cirque du Soleil is getting bailed out.

The Government of Quebec has announced that it is loaning Cirque du Soleil up to $200 million U.S. to support the live entertainment company whose operations have been paralyzed by the global COVID-19 lockdown.

Quebec’s Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon says the province will become a creditor of the company under an agreement in principle between Investissement Quebec and Cirque du Soleil's three main shareholders -- Texas-based TPG Capital, Chinese firm Fosun and the Caisse de depot et placement.

The Quebec government would have the option of buying Cirque du Soleil in the event that shareholders decide to sell their stakes. In exchange for financial support, the company's head office must remain in the Canadian province and its senior executives have to reside there.

On Sunday, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte said publicly that he wants to buy back the 36-year-old circus company that he sold for $1.5-billion U.S. in 2015 after growing it from a small troupe hers into a global entertainment giant. The pandemic has forced Cirque du Soleil, which carries a debt estimated at more than $900 million U.S., to cancel all 44 of its shows around the world and lay off 4,700 employees, which represents the majority of its workforce.