Cirque du Soleil, the private equity-backed entertainment company famed for its contortionists and acrobats, is acquiring musical act the Blue Man Group in a genre-bending deal.
The acquisition of New York-based Blue Man Productions is the first step in Cirque’s plan to diversify its productions and expand globally, Chief executive officer Daniel Lamarre said in an interview. The deal is valued in the tens of millions of dollars, he said, without being more specific.
“Our strategy for the future is very, very clear,” Lamarre said. “We want to become a leader, global leader, of live entertainment.”
TPG, the San Francisco and Fort Worth-based private equity firm, acquired Cirque du Soleil in 2015 in a deal that Moody’s Investors Service valued at $1.5 billion. Cirque’s founder, Guy Laliberte, still holds a minority stake in the company.
Blue Man’s interactive live show features music and comedy but no spoken words. The company operates a U.S. tour and a world tour, plus five shows in residence at theaters in the U.S. and a sixth in Germany -- giving Cirque du Soleil its first non-touring performance in Europe. Blue Man also will give Cirque access to a younger, family-focused audience, Lamarre said, adding that the brands will remain separate.
Currently Cirque du Soleil shows account for 80 percent to 85 percent of the company’s revenue, with the rest coming from merchandising and other sources. In the future, Lamarre said he wants to bring that number down to 70 percent by continuing to expand and diversify.
The company’s portfolio will grow again in November through a partnership with the National Football League. The NFL Experience Times Square will remain separate from the Cirque du Soleil brand, similar to the Blue Man Group. Cirque is also expanding into China with a touring show and a residency in Hangzhou.