Bidders have until next week to submit offers for a majority stake in Cirque du Soleil, estimated to be worth $2 billion, a Canadian newspaper said Wednesday.
The circus troupe's founder Guy Laliberte holds 90 percent of the private company he founded in 1984, and according to the daily Globe and Mail his stake would be reduced to only 10 percent in a sell-off.
"Last June, Guy Laliberte announced his intentions to find a strategic partner. That process is underway but is very long," Cirque spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard said in an email to AFP.
Laliberte originally wished to sell just a small piece of the firm that grew from a ragtag troupe of street performers to an entertainment giant presenting some 20 circus shows simultaneously around the world.
But the Globe and Mail, citing sources familiar with the negotiations, said buyers pushed for control of the company.
"Mr. Laliberte will take all the time he needs to evaluate bids," Menard noted.
Bidders include mostly foreign entertainment companies and private equity funds, the Globe and Mail said.
Some suitors, including private equity firm BC Partners, have withdrawn their offers after looking over Cirque's confidential financial documents, which reportedly point to dwindling profits.
For the first time ever, Cirque posted a loss in 2012 and subsequently cut 1,000 out of 5,000 staff globally.
Notably, its eight Las Vegas shows are responsible for half of its revenues, while its others, including travelling tent shows, have struggled to be profitable.
Laliberte has reportedly blamed slack internal spending controls during his absence while he trained for a flight into space and to spend time with family.