After the deal closes, We Are Social becomes BlueFocus’ primary digital and social media unit outside the mainland. Plans are to continue operating the company as an independent brand under the leadership of its existing management.
We Are Social’s international clients get “exceptional insight and unparalleled access” to China’s fast-growing market from the deal, according to the founders. At the same time, BlueFocus should gain “significant growth in digital revenues” from We Are Social’s global network of operations in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and São Paulo, according to the group.
Currently, half of BlueFocus’ revenue comes from digital. It has publicly stated its goal to grow income 10 times over in the next 10 years. Founded in 1996, the firm is China’s largest marketing services group listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, and owns public relations, media buying, experiential, digital advertising and network gaming businesses.
Robin Grant and Nathan McDonald launched We Are Social in 2008 and the company has since built a reputation for award-winning strategic and creative work for its client base, including adidas, Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, Mondelēz, Heineken, eBay, Intel, Moët & Chandon and Expedia.
BlueFocus and We Are Social have a number of mutual clients, including Lenovo, Jaguar Land Rover and Cisco. Simon Kemp, managing director of We Are Social, said both firms also share “global ambitions, an entrepreneurial culture and a track record of amazingly fast growth”.
In the last five years, the specialist social media agency reached a global turnover of US$38 million, with a forecast turnover of US$57 million for this financial year.
BlueFocus will acquire Grant and McDonald’s shareholdings for an initial consideration of US$30 million, with further performance-based settlements over a three-year period.
The transaction needs Chinese regulatory approval, which should come through within three months.