Caisse paid $75 million to Guy Laliberté for Cirque du Soleil shares

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Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec paid US$75 million to buy back billionaire Guy Laliberté’s remaining 10-per-cent stake in Cirque du Soleil, which put itself into creditor protection a few months later.

The new president of the public pension fund manager, Charles Emond, revealed the price of the transaction Monday to a National Assembly committee hearing.

The Caisse wrote off its investments in the entertainment company, which it evaluated at US$170 million. It had bought 10 per cent of the company in 2015 when Laliberté chose to sell his majority stake to a trio of investors that also included TPG Capital and Chinese company Fosun.

Emond justified the purchase to opposition MNAs, saying the transaction happened before the pandemic and was carefully thought out.

A group of the Cirque’s secured creditors, led by Toronto’s Catalyst Capital Group, is in the process of taking control of the company. Last month, its offer evaluated at more than US$1.2 billion was accepted as a stalking horse bid by the court.

Interested parties have until the end of the day Tuesday to make a rival offer, whose value must be at least US$1.5 million above the deal reached with creditors.