Cirque du Soleil Close to Deal With U.S., China Investors (Report)

The Canadian-based circus troupe's founder told employees in an email that there's "a lot of discussions going on."

Canada's Cirque du Soleil is about to be purchased by U.S. private equity firm TPG Capital and China's Fosun Capital Group, according to CBC News.

The deal for the Montreal-based entertainment group that started out with big-tent circus performances is said to include the rumored participation of pension fund giant Caisse de depot et placement, and to leave Cirque's billionaire founder Guy Laliberte with a 10 percent stake.

The Wall Street Journal has valued a potential sale of a majority stake to TPG and Fosun at around $1.5 billion, less than the rumored $2 billion asking price that Laliberte had reportedly sought. Laliberte, who launched the global brand in 1984 and has a controlling stake in the privately held group, on Thursday sent an internal email to employees in which he confirmed an ongoing sales process.

"I will not hide the fact that there are a lot of discussions going on," he told Cirque staff, before adding they would be the first to hear of any final agreement. Cirque, which built its global empire on the strength of traveling and permanent circus shows, in recent years has diversified into film, TV and digital exploitation of its brand in partnership with Canada's Bell Media, Saban Brands and Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Executives at Cirque's Montreal headquarters were not available to comment on press reports of a sales deal in the works.

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