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Guy Laliberte sells final interest in Cirque du Soleil

Updated February 18, 2020 - 11:30 am

The architect of the artistic company that changed the face of Las Vegas entertainment has been bought out.

Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil, has sold his 10-percent minority interest to the Canadian investment company Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).

The transaction was announced Monday, meaning, for the first time in Cirque’s history, Laliberte has no stake in the company’s financial performance.

In a statement, the 60-year-old Laliberte said, “I am happy that my share of Cirque du Soleil, which I founded 35 years ago, is going to Québec interests. I will continue to be involved in the creative process for shows and, more importantly, in supporting and contributing to the reach of Québec’s entertainment industry through my other projects.”

San Francisco-based TPG Capital remains Cirque’s largest shareholder, after buying a 60-percent stake in 2015. The ownership group also includes China’s Fosun Capital Group, headquartered in Shanghai. Laliberte collected a reported $1.5 billion in the TPG-led acquisition, and according to Forbes is worth a net $1.9 billion.

“The transaction announced (Monday) is excellent news, as it keeps a significant Québec presence among the shareholders,” Cirque President and CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a statement. “It also makes me very happy and proud to be able to continue counting on Guy’s expertise as a creative consultant to continue growth this company he founded in 1984.”

The flamboyant Laliberte is also the creator of One Drop Foundation, the water-conservation charity that hosts “One Night For One Drop” at Luxor on March 27, with a performance of “The Illusionists” magic show. Laliberte is set to headline a DJ set during the event’s after-party. He also manned the decks at Light nightclub at Mandalay Bay in August, showcasing his “Candy World” nightlife entertainment concept.

Laliberte created the company from his artistic background as as a street performer who specialized in accordion, stilt-walking and breathing fire. He has been involved in all Cirque shows dating from “Mystere” in 1993 through “Michael Jackson One” in 2013.

“R.U.N” at Luxor is the first Cirque show developed for the Strip under TPG’s majority ownership. The company continues to be based in Montreal, but its artistic home is Las Vegas, with seven original productions. Cirque also owns Blue Man Group at Luxor, which it acquired in July 2017, an effort to expand its empire with a proven hit.

What Works In Vegas

The ventriloquial artistry of Jeff Dunham at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. He’s back with verbose figures Peanut, Walter, José Jalapeño, Bubba J. and Achmed the Dead Terrorist for five new dates July 5, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Nov. 15. Tickets for those shows, and the previously booked March 15 and March 24 shows, are on sale at Ticketmaster at 10 a.m. Friday.

In an onstage chat at the Colosseum in 2016, Dunham explained his long-running, if tight-lipped, success.

“It’s doing show after show after show for Kiwanis clubs and Boy Scout birthday parties, shows for churches, shows at comedy clubs, and appealing to a very wide range of people,” Dunham said after a Sunday night performance. “You see many mixes of audiences, and I think you learn people very well and what they like. There is a kind of down-the-middle sense of humor you have to find to have success.”

Cool Hang Alert

Give it up for All Request Live, the only band — at least that I know of — that has performed “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty and “Since You’ve Been Gone,” by Rainbow in a single set. The band ditches the set list and takes requests via text, Twitter and (yes) the occasional cocktail napkin. These boys are back at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid at 10 p.m.-midnight Saturday (doors at 9 p.m.).

Light it up for vocalist John Lombardo, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Mike Szuter, guitarist/vocalist Jason Walker, bassist Josh Jones and drummer Chas Stumbo. ARL is at Sunset Station the third and fourth Saturdays of the month through the rest of this year, and also at Santa Fe Station on the second and fifth Saturdays of the month (they should sell specialized schedule calendars at the merch table).

Produced by Vegas entertainment exec (and occasional bassist for Beatles tribute band The Fab) John Menniti, ARL also plays Rhythm & Riffs at Mandalay Bay from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. at Sunday, Monday and next Tuesday.

The show is for ages 21-up, no cover charge, but lots of covers, music-wise.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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