High stakes poker player and famed Cirque du Soleil owner Guy Laliberté has built his company from the ground up into a multi-billion dollar entity over the past 30 years. But now, it seems that Laliberté is interested in cashing out and selling a large portion of Cirque du Soleil.
The Canadian billionaire owns 90 percent of the company and was initially looking for somebody to purchase a minority stake. However, TheGlobeAndMail.com reports that he’s now interested in selling the bulk of his 90 percent controlling interest.
Laliberté intiially attracted a number of potential investors, but many of them have been scared off after examining the company’s “deteriorating financial condition.” Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is one investor that’s stuck around, however, they only want a 10 percent stake at most and would like to join a winning bid. Caisse’s concern is that the company’s shows are struggling and they need a large amount of capital to spark a turnaround.
Goldman Sachs, which is running the auction, has valued Cirque du Soleil at $2 billion. However, it’s a wonder if the sale price will come anywhere near the valuation when considering the shaky financial status of the company. Investors have been given one week to come up with an offer for Laliberté.
Assuming Laliberté does fetch a decent price for his company, it’ll be interesting to see if he returns to the online poker tables again. The Montreal native is considered the biggest online poker loser in history with $25 million in losses, which is even more than Gus Hansen!
Laliberté left poker with a bad taste in his mouth, not only because of the losses, but also because he believes that he was cheated by high stakes pros. As I discussed before, Laliberté says that certain players were using endless funds given by FTP, and they would inflate pots by betting big. Given that Laliberté was already at a disadvantage, players pumping up the pots would cause him to lose more.
In any case, this was years ago, and Laliberté is still very much involved in poker, having spearheaded the $1 million WSOP Big One for ONE Drop. So regardless of whether he plays online again, he will at least be playing some live tournaments and helping drive the WSOP Big One.