Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, which shut down all of its shows because of the coronavirus pandemic, is in talks to borrow as much as C$500 million ($355 million) from the government of Quebec, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The loan from the provincial government’s investment arm, Investissement Quebec, would come after Cirque received $50 million from its top shareholders to stay afloat, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
National Bank of Canada has been conducting talks with potential investors in the company.
Cirque, which has shows in Las Vegas including “Mystere” and “Michael Jackson ONE,” needs to address about $900 million of senior loans.
S&P Global Ratings cut Cirque’s rating to D on April 3. The company failed to make principal and interest payments due March 31 on its first-lien credit facility and an interest payment on its second-lien facility.
Montreal-based Cirque and Investissement Quebec declined to comment. National Bank confirmed its mandate, but declined to comment further.
On Wednesday, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte indicated in an open letter that he might want back into the company.
Media company Quebecor Inc. said May 4 it made a proposal to Cirque to extend emergency financing to pay staff and suppliers, with the possibility of a longer-term investment. Quebecor said it “wanted to help save the Cirque” and would be prepared to “inject several hundred million dollars” to help the company, which grew from a troupe of Quebec street performers into a global live entertainment giant.
Laliberte said Quebecor would not be alone in its efforts and that “we’re about to see a wrestling match involving a number of players.”
“I am deciding whether or not I’m going to jump into that wrestling ring,” Laliberte wrote in the letter. He declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.