MONTREAL - The Cirque du Soleil has signed a deal to sell a majority stake in the famed circus group to U.S. private equity firm TPG for an undisclosed price.A timeline:1984 — To mark the 450th anniversary of French explorer Jacques Cartier’s arrival in Canada, the Quebec government hires Guy Laliberte and Gilles Ste-Croix’s troupe of about 20 street performers. They create the Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil, and take the show on the road to 11 Quebec communities.1985 — The troupe travels beyond Quebec for the first time, playing in Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls, and then onto western cities a year later. By 1987, it performs in California and earns raves reviews for its We Reinvent the Circus show.1990 — We Reinvent the Circus goes to London and Paris.1994 — The company marks its 10th anniversary with the show Alegria, opening in Montreal. It plays in 250 cities for more than 14 million audience members, closing in December 2013.1998 — The troupe’s new show, O, opens in Las Vegas’s Bellagio hotel and casino. O is the troupe’s first aquatic performance.2003 — Zumanity, an adult-only Cirque show, opens at another hotel in Las Vegas.2009 — Laliberte becomes Canada’s first private space explorer.2010 — Laliberte receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.2012 — The troupe launches a creative production service aimed at helping other artists and organizations. Madonna’s halftime Super Bowl performance uses the Cirque’s artistic direction.2013 — An acrobat from Paris, France becomes the first-ever fatality during a Cirque performance. Sarah Guyard-Guillot falls to her death at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.2014 — The Cirque marks its 30th anniversary.2015 — LaLiberte announces a deal to sell a majority stake to U.S. private equity firm TPG; Chinese investment firm Fosun and Quebec pension fund manager the Caisse de depot will hold minority stakes. He says the deal will move the Cirque forward in its evolution as a company "founded on the conviction that the arts and business, together, can contribute to making a better world."
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