For several months, Cirque du Soleil had to stop 44 shows around the world, the most important period in its history.
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“My nights were shorter than the other nights,” senior president Daniel Lamarie admits, in an interview with Newspaper From his home in Florida.
“We went from 1 billion revenue to zero. I couldn’t believe it. It was sad and worrisome. But I maintained my optimism and told myself that the brand was so strong that we were going to find the people who would ensure it was re-launched,” says Mr. Lamarie.
During this pandemic-imposed lockdown, Cirque du Soleil was bought by a consortium of investment firms, including Catalyst Capital, the controversial Toronto fund.
“We had no income and the company was ready to guarantee our recovery. What does it mean? This means that Cirque has a strong brand. Investors were confident that people would come back to see our shows,” confirms Mr. Lamarie.
“We don’t realize how famous the circus is all over the world. The brand’s credibility is as strong as Google or Apple. My pride is that the Cirque du Soleil name has remained in French,” he continues.
In Quebec for a long time
But with the arrival of Catalyst, Cirque du Soleil no longer has any Quebec shareholders or directors. The investors agreed to keep the head office in Montreal for five years. But yet?
“The majority of our employees are here in Quebec. There is one thing that makes me smile a little every time we ask about the head office. Investors have never questioned the truth,” says Mr. Lamarie.
According to him, the shareholders will not move the head office for purely economic reasons.
The main office there is an infrastructure worth several million dollars. You, tomorrow morning, if you buy a Cirque, you don’t want to dump this infrastructure to rebuild somewhere else. It will cost more! Also, the Canadian dollar is weaker than the US or European currency, so it pays to have a headquarters here,” he says.
The staff has been called
Several months later, the circus now has four shows in Las Vegas (mysteryAnd aAnd love And Michael Jackson One) and will restart K next November. Then, Attracted to lifeHis collaboration with Disney will open in Orlando on November 18th and kozain Punta Cana.
“We have close to 1,000 employees who have gone back to work and every time we reopen a showroom, another 200 are coming back. So by the end of the year, we will have close to 2,000 employees who will be back in their jobs,” predicts Mr. Lamarie.
He concludes, “What I’ve noticed is that we follow the vaccine, and we go to countries where the distribution of vaccines is very important.”
Will the first shareholder be patient enough?
The main shareholder of Cirque du Soleil is Catalyst Capital, an eagle fund that buys companies that have difficulty reselling them after a few years at a profit. So his goal is to see the group founded by Guy Laliberte return to profitability as quickly as possible.
“This type of investment fund, when it goes into the capital of a company, don’t fool yourself, it goes in and he’s already thinking about its exit. So, if we decide to go into the capital, it’s because we’ve seen the potential,” says Jan Simon, professor of strategy and management at Laval University. .
“If we look at the industry private propertyInvestment prospects can be up to three years. It depends on patience and tolerance, but Catalyst’s horizon is clearly not limitless,” he continues.
But Circus president Daniel Lamarie says the major shareholder has not pressured the group to relaunch its offerings. “No, on the contrary, they are the ones who asked us to be patient. They did not want us to take so many risks,” emphasizes Mr. Lamarie.
Millions of dollars to recover
When Cirque was acquired, the group of creditors who acquired it — including Catalyst — reduced Cirque’s debts by $900 million and injected $375 million into the company.
To find the path to profitability, Cirque will primarily use this money to find theaters all over the world.
“We are managing very carefully. We will certainly ensure that all funds made available to us by the shareholders are paid back to us to revive the offerings,” asserts Mr. Lamarie.