QUEBEC CITY—BlueFocus Communications Group, the Chinese public relations giant that has embarked on an expansion of its international operations, has acquired a majority position in Vision7, parent company of the equally expansion-minded PR firm Citizen Relations.
The deal marks the conclusion of a seven-month process that began in May when Connecticut-based Mill Road Capital, the private equity majority owner of Vision7 for the past five years, announced it was looking for strategic options for Vision7’s North American assets.
“Having Vision7 join the BlueFocus family will help us gain better access to the North American market and emphasizes our ‘To Be Global’ strategy,” says Oscar Zhao, CEO of BlueFocus, who said he was “confident that the current management will lead the company to the next level of success.”
Although the details are proprietary and confidential, Vision7 senior executive management will significantly increase its ownership stake and opportunities in the company as a result of this new agreement.
Adds Daryl McCullough (pictured), CEO of Citizen Relations, “This new alliance with a company that has such a strong PR and digital focus and determined growth agenda means that we can move ahead even more quickly with our own growth plans. We are also excited about the close cultural fit with BlueFocus which, like Citizen, places a high value on entrepreneurialism and the happiness of our people and our clients.”
Blue Focus reported PR revenues of close to $123m million earlier this year, up 41%, and has signaled its international ambitions with a 20% stake in UK-based Huntsworth (parent of Grayling and Citigate) and the acquisition of international social media specialist We Are Social this time last year.
Vision7 assets include the integrated agency Cossette, with offices across Canada and in Chicago; Citizen Relations, with offices in Canada, the US and the UK and a network of global affiliates; and Vision7 Media, a media planning and buying agency.
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