Cirque du Soleil in China: A Wake-Up Call or a Day of Reckoning?

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CASE STUDY. Set in June 2020, this case addresses the difficulties encountered by Cirque du Soleil (CdS, or Cirque) in China.


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Cirque du Soleil in China: A Wake-Up Call or a Day of Reckoning?: Abstract

Established in 1984, Cirque du Soleil (CdS) reinvented the circus, creating one of the industry’s most iconic creative brands. In 2015, Guy Laliberté, CdS’s leader, sold the organization to a private equity consortium led by Texas-based investment group TPG, Chinese real estate developer Fosun, and Quebec financial investor Caisse de Dépôt. This ownership change introduced a strategic shift and a renewed focus on the Chinese market – a market in which CdS had attempted to establish permanent operations with limited commercial success since 2007. The case, which is set in June 2020, focuses on the period between 2015, when the ownership change took place, and June 30, 2020, when Cirque filed for protection from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”) in Canada and Chapter 15 in the United States so that it could restructure its capital. It explores the company’s decisions regarding market entry and product selection and the challenges it encountered.

Teaching objectives

By the end of this case, students will

  • Develop analytical skills (strategy formulation, organizational structure design or assessment, setting strategy implementation mechanisms, etc.) for topics such as strategy development and execution, internationalization, entry mode, and leadership.

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Teachers’ notes are available for university teachers only. Please contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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