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Cirque du Soleil considering options after closing shows, laying off most staff

Last Updated Mar 26, 2020 at 5:02 pm MDT

A man and woman walk by the Cirque du Soleil Big Top in Montreal's Old Port, Saturday, March 21, 2020, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Cirque du Soleil says it hasn’t made a decision on steps it will take to stay afloat after cancelling all of its shows and laying off almost all of its employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Company spokeswoman Caroline Couillard says the company is working with all of its partners, as well as with the federal and Quebec governments, to determine how to best support it and prepare for a return to activities as soon as the pandemic is brought under control.

The company’s debt is estimated to be US$900 million.

Cirque’s main shareholder is TPG Capital, with a 60 per cent stake, compared with 20 per cent each for the Chinese firm Fosun Capital Group and the Quebec pension fund manager.

A week ago, the company announced the layoff of some 4,700 employees and the cancellation of its 44 shows around the world, including six in Las Vegas.

American credit rating agency Moody’s last week lowered the company’s credit rating and said there was a high risk of default by the end of the year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press