MONTREAL — BlueFocus has sold a majority stake in its international agency group, less than a year after shelving plans to spin off the firms into a new listed company.

The Chinese holding group has sold the stake to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and investment fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ). The deal relates to BlueFocus subsidiary agencies outside China, which comprises three agency groups — We Are Social, fuseproject, and Vision7 International, covering such firms as Cossette, Cossette Media, Eleven and Citizen Relations, among others.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be finalized in Q3 2021. It follows the 2019 announcement of BlueFocus' plans to combine $300m publicly-listed acquisition vehicle Legacy Acquisition Corp and BlueFocus International to form Blue Impact. However, the onset of Covid-19 scuppered those plans, with the deal formally terminated in July 2020. 

The new entity will have more than 2,500 employees, across 12 countries in North
America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, with Vision7 CEO Brett Marchand serving as CEO.

"Our partnership with CVC and CDPQ, will allow us to advance our expansion and transformation strategy,” said Marchand. “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."

CVC's other key investments in this sector include Alix Partners, Teneo and TMF Group. "CVC is impressed by the opportunity for accelerated growth," said MD Scott Chen. "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."

Co-founded in 1996 by chairman/CEO Oscar Zhao, BlueFocus was last year named one of PRovoke's Asia-Pacific Consultancies of the Decade, after growing to $330m in global PR fee income.