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Cirque du Soleil founder considering participating in company's rescue


MONTREAL — Three months after selling his stake, Cirque du Soleil's founder is considering the possibility of getting involved in the rescue of the entertainment company that's been greatly weakened by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In an open letter sent on Wednesday, Guy Laliberte says the future of the acrobatic troupe will depend on patient investors who will resist the temptation to reopen too quickly.

The businessman predicts there will be a "battle royale" to rescue the Cirque, including current shareholders led by Mitch Garber, debt holders who took the risk of funding the Cirque, as well as various levels of government that wanted to keep the head office and jobs in Quebec.

He says the biggest threat to the Cirque's future are "sharks" who dream of buying it for "a song" and those with no experience in managing cultural organizations of this scale.

The Cirque du Soleil laid off 4,679 employees, or 95 per cent of its workforce, on March 19, and cancelled 44 shows around the world. It has a debt of $900 million.

Quebecor Inc. has expressed an interest in Cirque du Soleil and is ready to inject hundreds of millions of dollar despite not having access to the cirque's books.

"You can't win the Stanley Cup 36 years in a row, but with patience, heart and hard work, you can dream of holding it in your hands once again," said Laliberte.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:QBR.B)

The Canadian Press

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