Arun Sudhaman 23 Aug 2019 // 2:38PM GMT
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — Chinese marketing services giant BlueFocus has struck a deal with $300m publicly-listed acquisition vehicle Legacy Acquisition Corp, which will see the group's international agencies — including Citizen Relations and We Are Social — spun off into a new listed company called Blue Impact.
The deal sees Legacy change its name to Blue Impact and continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Blue Impact will include the various international agencies that BlueFocus has acquired over the past decade — Vision7, the Canadian business that includes Citizen Relations, the UK-based We Are Social, Fuse Project in San Francisco, Hong Kong firm Metta and Chinese mobile platform Madhouse.
According to filings, Blue Impact net revenues are forecast at just over $400m for 2019, from a headcount of 2,500 employees. BlueFocus will own 44.4% of Blue Impact, making it the single largest shareholder, and is targeting revenues of $1bn, after averaging growth of 17.7% for the past three years. In particular, 63% of Blue Impact's revenue comes from digital marketing, while the company will have $176m available for acquisitions.
Headquartered in Mountain View, Blue Impact will be led by Vision7 CEO Brett Marchand, who becomes Blue Impact CEO, while Holly Zheng, who previously led BlueFocus International, will be chairwoman of the post-acquisition Blue Impact board.
"We have taken the international agencies and spun them off to be a separate public company, combined with the capital from Legacy to grow it even quicker," Marchand told the Holmes Report, adding that Chinese firm Madhouse was included because "most of its business is to target consumers outside of China."
The plan calls for agency employees to be located in "collaborative campuses in each major market", according to the investor presentation, along with shared leadership for Blue Impact and a single P&L across four service groups — earned media, owned media, paid media and shared media.
Marchand told the Holmes Report that, despite the consolidation across campuses, Blue Impact will retain the individual agency brands. "Luckily we have a lead agency for each of the four service groups," he said.
Marchand's executive team is expected to include Fuseproject head Yves Behar (overseeing owned media in US and Europe), Citizen Relations president Nick Cowling (earned media globally), We Are Social CEO Nathan MacDonald (shared media, globally), Cossette Communications CEO Melanie Dunn (owned media in Canada), Vision7 media CEO Joseph Leon (paid media, US & EMEA), and Madhouse president Charlie Ruan (paid media, Asia.)
Citizen Relations chairman Daryl McCullough adds the role of CCO of Blue Impact, Marchand added.
The group already utilises shared campuses in London, Montreal, Toronto and Beijing, with more expected in LA, New York, San Francisco and Shanghai.
The deal comes 18 months after Legacy raised $300m to acquire consumer and brand based businesses. The company is led by several former P&G executives, including CEO Edwin Rigaud. Legacy president and COO Daryl McCall is expected to join the Blue Impact board.
“As a management team with deep experience building and marketing global consumer brands, we are very pleased to announce our business combination with Blue Impact," said Rigaud in a statement. "Having screened over 370 opportunities since the establishment of our $300 million SPAC, we believe we have identified a leading global platform.
"The agencies that will form the Blue Impact business, together, form a leading and rapidly growing advertising and marketing services platform and are well positioned to capitalize on the confluence of several major marketing trends: the rise of mobile, digital and social communications, the advance of data-driven media and marketing, plus the continued emergence of highly nimble and client-focused talent."
The transaction subject to approval of Legacy shareholders, but is expected to be completed this year.