The Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, had known for months that Guy Laliberté wanted to sell his remaining 10% stake in Cirque du Soleil and he was willing to risk Quebecers’ money to buy it back despite the fragile finances of the business.
• Read also: Quebecers lose their circus
“It started with [Michael] Sabia (the former CEO of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec). It had been talking about six months. […] I knew they considered that, of course, because Guy [Laliberté] had said he wanted to sell, ”he told Parti Québécois MP Martin Ouellet during his ministry’s credit study on Wednesday.
“If there had been no buyers and I had been nervous that a non-compatible buyer [rachète le 10 %], we might have done something. At what value? We will not go into that, it would be speculation, ”he continued.
However, the successor of Michael Sabia and current CEO of the Caisse, Charles Émond, instead affirmed during his own testimony in credit studies, Monday, that the government had been informed of the transaction with Guy Laliberté only the day before the announces the purchase of its 10% block for $ 75 million.
Asked about this, Pierre Fitzgibbon’s press attaché, Mathieu St-Amand, corrected the minister’s remarks by asserting that the government had been informed “formally, the day before the announcement of the transaction”.
«[…] The government would most likely have taken steps “to acquire Guy Laliberté’s 10% stake through Investissement Québec if the Caisse had not done so, he added, specifying that it was a question of a “hypothetical question”.
Last February, when the Cirque already announced the cancellation of shows in China due to COVID-19, the CDPQ bought the remaining 10% share of the founder of the Cirque, Guy Laliberté, in the company.
In early June, several weeks after Cirque had taken shelter from its creditors, the CDPQ wrote off its entire $ 228 million investment in the Quebec flagship.