CDPQ and CVC to acquire 60% stake in BlueFocus’ international group of agencies for US $210M

CPE News (5/4/2021) – Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and CVC Capital Partners have reached an agreement with BlueFocus Intelligent Communication Group (北京藍色光標) for CDPQ and CVC Capital Partners Asia V to acquire a majority (60%) stake in its international group of agencies, managed under its subsidiary, BlueFocus International.

The group include Vision7 International Inc. (includes Cossette, Cossette Media, Eleven and Citizen Relations) of Quebec City, We Are Very Social Limited (includes Metta Communications Limited ) of London, UK, and Fuse Project, LLC of San Francisco, California.

The transaction values the group at US $350 million. BlueFocus will retain 40% stake following the closing of the transaction.

The transaction is expected to be finalized in Q3 2021.

In December 2014, BlueFocus acquired 85% stake in Vision7 from Mill Road Capital for CDN $210 million. In June 2020, BlueFocus acquired remaining stakes to own 100% of Vision7.

photo credit: Vision7

News Release

CDPQ and CVC Capital Partners jointly agree the acquisition of a majority stake in BlueFocus International agencies Français

The deal will provide investment in human, relationship and financial capital to advance the growth strategy of Vision7 International, We Are Social and fuseproject

MONTRÉAL, May 4, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”), a global investment group, and CVC Capital Partners (“CVC”), a leading global private equity and investment advisory firm, have reached an agreement with BlueFocus Intelligent Communication Group for CDPQ and CVC Capital Partners Asia V to acquire a majority stake in its international group of agencies, managed under its subsidiary, BlueFocus International. This transaction will create a global platform headquartered in Quebec City for the three agency groups: Vision7 International which includes Cossette, Cossette Media, Eleven and Citizen Relations, as well as We Are Social (London, UK) and fuseproject (San Francisco, US).

This agreement will create a digital-first, technology-enabled global advertising and marketing services group of companies. This partnership will provide the new group with the capital to invest in its growth strategy, focused on market expansion, building its next generation of tech and data capabilities and expanding its talent base. The new entity has more than 2,500 employees, across 12 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

CDPQ’s and CVC’s global network and partnerships will provide the group with access to key strategic human and relationship capital, which will be important for its expansion plans.

“Our partnership with CDPQ and CVC, will allow us to advance our expansion and transformation strategy,” said Brett Marchand, Vision7 International’s President and CEO, who will lead the new combined entity as its new CEO. “This investment in geographic and capabilities expansion and next generation technology and data offering will provide leading-edge services for our clients and unparalleled development opportunities to our talented people all around the world.”

“CDPQ is very proud to take part in this transaction that will enable the creation of a new global communications and marketing group whose centre of expertise and headquarters will be in Québec,” said Kim Thomassin, Executive Vice-President and Head of Investments in Québec and Stewardship Investing. “This investment aligns with our goal to support companies in their growth and globalization and will allow the company to carry out its ambitious development plan focusing on expanding in certain international markets.”

CVC is well positioned to support this strategy, given its experience gained through the successful expansion of international business services providers such as Alix Partners, Teneo and TMF Group. “CVC is impressed by the opportunity for accelerated growth,” said Scott Chen, Managing Director at CVC Capital Partners. “We couldn’t pass up the unique opportunity to invest in this group of leading, tech-enabled agencies and we look forward to working with their talented management teams to take each of the businesses to the next level.”

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, is expected to be finalized in Q3 2021. No further terms are being disclosed. PJT Partners acted as the exclusive financial advisor to BlueFocus Intelligent Communications Group and RBC Capital Markets acted as the financial advisor to BlueFocus International subsidiaries. White & Case and McCarthy Tetrault LLP acted as legal advisors to CVC, Fasken acted as legal advisor for CDPQ and Norton Rose Fulbright acted as legal advisor to BlueFocus International subsidiaries.

About CDPQ
At Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), we invest constructively to generate sustainable returns over the long term. As a global investment group managing funds for public retirement and insurance plans, we work alongside our partners to build enterprises that drive performance and progress. We are active in the major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. As at December 31, 2020, CDPQ’s net assets total CAD 365.5 billion.

About CVC Capital Partners
CVC is a leading private equity and investment advisory firm with a network of 23 offices throughout Europe, Asia and the US, with approximately US$118 billion of assets under management. Since its founding in 1981, CVC has secured commitments in excess of US$160 billion from some of the world’s leading institutional investors across its private equity and credit strategies. Funds managed or advised by CVC are invested in over 90 companies worldwide, which have combined annual sales of approximately US$100 billion and employ more than 450,000 people.

About CVC Asia
CVC has one of the largest and longest-established pan-regional office networks of any private equity business in Asia and has been active in the region since 1999. CVC’s Asia private equity strategy is focused on control and partnership investments in high quality businesses, typically with enterprise values between $250 million and $1.5 billion. For further information about CVC’s Asia Pacific funds please visit: www.cvc.com/private-equity/asia.

About BFICG
Blue Focus Intelligent Communication Group, founded in 1996, is China’s leading advertising, PR, digital marketing and communications company. BlueFocus provides intelligent marketing services covering digital marketing, public relations, mobile and traditional advertising, creative media production and media buying, E-commerce solutions, cloud based CRM, big data intelligence and social media insights & marketing. BlueFocus went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2010 and has been expanding its digital and operational footprint globally serving over 1,500 brands worldwide.

SOURCE Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

For further information: Contacts: For CDPQ: Media team, medias@cdpq.com, 514-847-5493; For Blue Focus International: Nick Cowling, nick.cowling@citizenrelations.com 416-573-5614; For CVC Capital Partners: Nick Board, Vice President Communications, nboard@cvc.com