Fosun International, one of China's largest domestic private investment companies, aims to move further into the domestic fashion and lifestyle industries.
The Shanghai-based group officially announced on Monday the details of the acquisition of Canadian circus and entertainment giant Cirque du Soleil and the establishment of a joint venture with leading British travel company Thomas Cook.
In April, Fosun formed a partnership with TPG, a leading private investment company based in Texas, to become the largest strategic partner with Cirque to further facilitate its global business development.
"Fosun will take a 25 percent stake in Cirque du Soleil, while TPG will hold the majority 55 percent stake in the circus company. Canada Quebec's largest pension fund, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, will hold a 10 percent stake and Cirque founder Guy Laliberte's family trust will keep the remaining 10 percent," said Zhong Lei, senior managing director of Fosun Group.
For the joint venture with Thomas Cook, Fosun will own 51 percent of the company and Thomas Cook will own the remaining 49 percent. The joint venture will be based in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.
Guo Guangchang, chairman of the Fosun Group, said: "Our partnership with Cirque du Soleil and Thomas Cook is a milestone for the implementation of Fosun's investment model of 'Combining China's growth momentum with global resources'."
He added: "With the continuous growth of consumer demand in the China market and the expansion of China's middle-class group scale, Fosun will be paying increasing attention to investment in health and fashion and lifestyle-related industries. With a focus on consumption upgrading, Fosun is enhancing its global industrial integration capability, and dedicated to cultivating and building a world-class platform that captures health and lifestyle trends in China and the world."
Fosun is also keeping an eye on the sports industry and looking for suitable partners across the world to tap into this industry, he said.
Fosun and Cirque du Soleil introduced their ongoing programs in China, including a permanent show to be designed and produced by Cirque in partnership with Hangzhou Industrial Investment Group, which is scheduled to launch at the beginning of 2018 in Hangzhou.
Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, said: "We're very pleased to join Fosun as a strategic partner. Three months from now, Cirque du Soleil's China office will open in Shanghai, so we will be in quick proximity to our partner and will be readily accessible for any synergies within Fosun's portfolio of amazing brands. We look forward to closer cooperation with Fosun to promote our unique Quebec cultural heritage via Fosun's experience and expertise in China, and to accelerate China's business growth into a new level."
Qian Jiannong, vice-president of Fosun and president of its tourism and commercial group, said: "The joint venture with Thomas Cook has a competitive advantage since there is a lack of innovation and differentiation in the travel product offerings for Chinese tourists in China and abroad now."
Fosun International is a major private investor on the acquisition trail in Europe and the US.
Last year Fosun spent more than $8 billion in investments, ranging from the tourism and movie industries to the Internet, some of which were overseas.
In January, Fosun purchased Club Med.
"Thomas Cook has good brand recognition and is regarded as having the leading position in the European tourism market, and Club Med will become an investment platform for Fosun's integration of the fashion and lifestyle industry. The strong alliance between the two sides will allow us to further develop international leisure tourism," said Qian.
Peter Fankhauser, CEO of Thomas Cook, said the company is excited at the prospect of entering China, the largest and fastest-growing tourism market across the world.
"Our heritage, know-how and expertise in international travel together with Fosun's in-depth market experience and operational resources give us a solid platform to precisely capitalize on China's increasing demand for leisure travel," said Fankhauser.