Montreal (AFP) - Guy Laliberte, a former stilt-walker who founded Canada's Cirque du Soleil more than three decades ago, announced Monday he had sold his remaining stake in the world's most famous circus troupe.
Laliberte -- whose eclectic CV includes stints as a fire-eater, professional poker player and a tourist on the International Space Station -- will retain his links to the Montreal-based troupe as a creative advisor.
But after selling most of his shares to Chinese and American investors in a $1.5 billion deal in 2015, he is now ceding his remaining 10 percent stake to Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), an institutional investment company.
"I will continue to be involved in the creative process for shows and, more importantly, in supporting and contributing to the reach of Quebec's entertainment industry through my other projects," Laliberte said in a statement.
Since then Laliberte has also been involved in a fledgling circus project called Lune Rouge (Red Moon) which combines acrobatics with a futuristic lights and laser show.
CDPQ, which manages several public pension plans in Canada's French-speaking Quebec province, said it would now own nearly 20 percent of the company but did not say how much it had paid for Laliberte's shares.
"We are happy to strengthen our presence among shareholders of Cirque du Soleil, an iconic entertainment brand with worldwide renown," CDPQ's chief executive Charles Emond said in a statement.
Cirque du Soleil began life as a troupe of street performers which performed in Quebec before Laliberte took them on tour in the mid 1980s and their show quickly gained a cult following.
After putting on their first shows outside Canada in the United States in 1997, they then branched out into Europe and then Asia. It has now has around 50 ongoing shows in countries around the world.