A multidisciplinary, cross-office Davis Wright Tremaine team has represented the owners of entertainment phenomenon Blue Man Group in the sale of the company to Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.
First launched in New York in 1991, Blue Man Group’s dynamic combination of art, music, comedy, and technology has been performed in over 20 countries and been seen by more than 35 million people worldwide. The company has ongoing shows in five major U.S. cities, a permanent show in Berlin, and a world tour.
Gray Coleman, chair of the firm’s Entertainment Transactions practice group, has served for several years as outside entertainment counsel to Blue Man co-founders Phil Stanton and Chris Wink.
“There are only a handful of lawyers in the country with expertise in live theater entertainment,” says Coleman. “Most of them don’t reside in firms where they can say, ‘Yes, of course I have sophisticated corporate deal runners, and international tax counsel, and employment and benefits experts, and yes, I can assemble a team in 24 hours to handle this. Happily I do.”
The deal was led on the corporate side by Claude Goetz and Jisoo Kim in New York, with support from Drew Patterson and Nicole Giuntoli in San Francisco. Because Cirque is based in Canada, tax implications proved to be among the most complicated aspects of the deal and Pamela Charles in Seattle provided essential advice. Amy Hwang in Seattle handled benefits and Michael Goettig in New York acted as employment counsel for Stanton and Wink, who are both staying on in executive roles at the new combined company.
As the New York Times reported: “After the acquisition, Blue Man will be able to tap into Cirque’s worldwide access to theaters and marketers. In particular, both organizations have their eye on China, home to one of the most powerful and quickly growing entertainment industries in the world.”
Blue Man Group was owned by Wink and Stanton and the GF Capital Private Equity Fund. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Blue Man Group.