Business

Cirque du Soleil buys Blue Man Group

Cirque du Soleil dress rehearsal Image copyright Getty Images

Canadian circus firm Cirque du Soleil has bought the US entertainment company Blue Man Productions as part of its drive to diversify beyond circus arts.

The Montreal-based circus troupe said the acquisition would also help it build its global presence.

The acquisition is worth tens of millions of US dollars, said Cirque boss Daniel Lamarre.

The deal is part of a growth plan developed since a US private equity firm invested in the circus in 2015.

Cirque du Soleil now aims to become "the global leader of live entertainment", Mr Lamarre said.

In Thursday's statement, he called the acquisition of Blue Man Group, known for performances with drummers wearing blue body paint, a "decisive step" towards those ambitions.

"We want to broaden our horizons, develop new forms of entertainment, reach out to new audiences and expand our own creative capabilities," he added.

Cirque du Soleil started in 1984 as a group of 20 street performers. It now employs almost 4,000 people and has 18 shows active throughout the world this year, with revenue of about $1bn (£770m).

In 2015, a group that included US investment firm TPG Capital, took majority ownership of the company.

Image copyright Getty Images

Cirque du Soleil sold to investors

How Cirque du Soleil became a billion dollar business

TPG's other investments include fashion retailer J Crew, music streaming firm Spotify and ride-hailing company Uber.

The firm's backing has provided new financial might to Cirque du Soleil, which is investing $100m in new shows this year, Mr Lamarre said.

He will visit China later this month to announce the establishment of a 14-month tour and a new, permanent Cirque du Soleil show in Hangzhou.

Cirque du Soleil also plans to start an ice show and an interactive attraction in New York tied to US football.

Mr Lamarre said he sees an opportunity to grow by making Blue Man a bigger player on the world stage.

'Underdeveloped'

Blue Man Group, founded in New York by three friends, has been performing since 1991 and employs about 550 people. Investment firm GF Capital took a stake in the company in 2010.

It currently operates resident shows in New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and Berlin, as well as two touring productions.

The goal is to expand its reach to some of the 450 cities Cirque du Soleil visits globally, Mr Lamarre said.

He called the Blue Man brand "underdeveloped".

"We want to keep the Blue Man Group brand totally authentic and we want to develop the brand as much as we can," he said.