Arun Sudhaman 23 Nov 2020 // 6:44AM GMT
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — BlueFocus is weighing international options after shelving its deal with $300m publicly-listed acquisition vehicle Legacy Acquisition Corp, which would have seen the Chinese group's international agencies — including Citizen Relations and We Are Social — spun off into a new company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The transaction, announced in 2019 and due to complete earlier this year, aimed to combine Legacy and BlueFocus' international businesses to form Blue Impact. However, said Blue Impact CEO Brett Marchand, the onset of Covid-19 scuppered those plans, with the deal formally terminated in July.
"In the months leading up to that decision, BlueFocus worked tirelessly with the Legacy team in search for public equity investors who could provide sufficient capital for the business combination," said Marchand. "However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy and the marketing services industry in particular, we were unable to secure such investor demand at an acceptable cost to our respective shareholders."
Marchand told PRovoke Media that BlueFocus is "forging ahead" with Blue Impact, which remains 100% owned by BlueFocus. The international spin-off includes all of BlueFocus' subsidiaries outside China — Vision7, the Canadian business that includes Citizen Relations, the UK-based We Are Social, Fuse Project in San Francisco, and Hong Kong firm Metta — although Chinese mobile platform Madhouse will no longer form part of Blue Impact.
"We probably dodged a bullet because I'm not sure I want to be a public company in this turmoil," said Marchand. "Given the aspirations of BlueFocus and Blue Impact, we will probably sometime in the future look for other investment outside of China."
Headquartered in Mountain View, Blue Impact is led by Marchand and chairwoman Holly Zheng. Marchand was previously CEO of Vision7, while Zheng led BlueFocus International.
Other elements of the Blue Impact plan remain in place, namely a single P&L across our service groups — earned media, owned media, paid media and shared media — and an individual agency brand to lead each of these.
In addition, Blue Impact is also continuing with shared campuses in key cities, including New York, London, Los Angeles and Chicago. More are expected in Shanghai and San Francisco.
In addition, Blue Impact last month acquired Vancouver-based affiliate marketing firm AIM as part of Vision7.
Co-founded in 1996 by chairman/CEO Oscar Zhao, BlueFocus was recently named one of PRovoke Media's Asia-Pacific Consultancies of the Decade, after growing to $330m in global PR fee income.