MONTREAL — The Cirque du Soleil is buying Blue Man Productions, the New York entertainment company best known for the Blue Man Group show, in a bid to expand its appeal globally, the Montreal-based company said Thursday.

The acquisition gives the Cirque du Soleil a foothold in Europe, with ongoing shows of the Blue Man Group in Berlin, said Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre.

“We have just pressed on the accelerator of growth for the coming years,” Lamarre said in an interview from New York.

He added that the takeover will help the Cirque move beyond circus acts by adding six productions of the masked musical troupe across the U.S. and Germany as well as touring shows.

The deal is the first for the Cirque since it sold a majority stake two years ago to a group led by U.S. private investment firm TPG, including China’s Fosun Capital Group.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but Lamarre said it is in the range of “several tens of millions of dollars.”

Founded in 1984 as a circus featuring aerialists and acrobats, the Cirque du Soleil has grown to become a worldwide sensation.

The Blue Man Group was created in 1991 by three friends from New York City based on a bald, blue character, and since then more than 35 million people have seen the troupe perform in 20 countries.

Lamarre said he hopes the Cirque’s partnership with Fosun will eventually lead to bringing the Blue Man Group to China.

“We believe that with our international distribution force, we will succeed in making the Blue Man Group more widely known throughout the world,” he said.

Discussions began a little more than a year ago after someone from Fosun suggested Blue Man Productions meet with the Cirque to spur its growth, said Blue Man co-founder Chris Wink.

Lamarre said Blue Man Productions, which has about 500 employees at shows, would continue to operate independently within the Cirque du Soleil. Up to 50 administrative jobs could be moved from New York to Montreal.

The Canadian Press