We are Social has been sold. CVC Capital Partners (“CVC”), a global private equity and investment advisory firm, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”), a global investment group, have reached an agreement with BlueFocus Intelligent Communication Group for CVC Capital Partners Asia V and CDPQ to acquire a majority stake in its international group of agencies, managed under its subsidiary, BlueFocus International. This comprises its three main agency groups: We Are Social, fuseproject, Vision7 International which includes Cossette, Cossette Media, Eleven and Citizen Relations, among others.
In 2018 We Are Social bought a majority share in Dubai-based Socialize. The move was We Are Social’s first acquisition, and extended the network to the Middle East and North Africa for the first time.
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 the Asia Pacific.
CVC’s and CDPQ’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 CVC and CDPQ, 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.”
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.”
“CDPQ is very proud to take part in this transaction that will enable the creation of a new global communications and marketing group,” 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.”
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.