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We Are Social Acquired by BlueFocus


Chinese marketing services group takes 82.8% stake for $30m

We Are Social Acquired by BlueFocus

Above: We Are Social Co-Founders Robin Grant & Nathan McDonald  


BlueFocus Communication Group Co. Ltd (BlueFocus), China's leading marketing services group, today announced its acquisition of a majority stake in We Are Social, the world’s largest specialist social media agency network, subject to regulatory approval.

The alliance will allow We Are Social to continue its fast growth trajectory, build out its global infrastructure and expand into further key markets. Importantly, it will leave We Are Social operating as an independent brand under the leadership of its existing management team. The partnership will also give We Are Social’s global clients exceptional insight and access to the fast-growing Chinese market.

We Are Social will become BlueFocus’ primary digital agency brand outside China, bringing digital and social media expertise on a global scale to the group. We Are Social will provide BlueFocus with a platform for significant growth in digital revenues, and will transform the group into one with a global network of operations.  

We Are Social was founded in 2008 by Robin Grant and Nathan McDonald in response to the way that social media was changing the media landscape. The agency has since become renowned for its award-winning strategic and creative work for a large global client base, including adidas, Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, Mondelēz, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon and Expedia.

Currently employing 400 people across its eight global offices in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and ‎São Paulo, We Are Social is the largest specialist social media agency network in the world.

In just five years, We Are Social has reached a global turnover of £23 million ($38m / €27m), with a forecast turnover of £35 million ($57m / €42m) for this financial year. BlueFocus will buy an 82.8% interest in We Are Social. Grant and McDonald are majority shareholders in the agency, which BlueFocus will acquire for an initial consideration of £18.7 million ($30m / €22m), with further performance based consideration over a three year period. 

We Are Social will continue to operate as an independent brand with its own unique culture. Grant and McDonald, along with We Are Social’s existing global management team, will continue to lead the agency.

BlueFocus is China’s largest marketing services group, listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange with a market cap of $3.7bn. Growing at a faster rate than any other major marketing services group in the world, with 72% growth in its most recent financial year, BlueFocus has the stated ambition of growing revenues 10 times over in the next 10 years.

It owns public relations, media buying, experiential, digital, digital advertising and network gaming businesses in China, including Blue Digital (formerly BlueFocus PR), Asia’s no. 1 PR agency. Currently 50% of its revenues come from digital. BlueFocus and We Are Social have a number of mutual clients, including Lenovo, Jaguar Land Rover and Cisco.

Robin Grant, Co-founder and Global Managing Director, We Are Social said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for We Are Social. The partnership will allow us to continue investing in our brand and our culture, deliver increased scale and better infrastructure to our clients, and accelerate our mission to put social thinking at the centre of marketing.

“China is also central to both our and our clients’ plans for future growth, and the alliance with BlueFocus will give our clients unparalleled insight into this important fast-growing economy.”

Nathan McDonald, Co-founder and Global Managing Partner, We Are Social, said: “This partnership will increase the impact of We Are Social on the global marketing industry. With BlueFocus as our partner we’ll be able to expand into new markets and explore new opportunities, strengthening what is already a successful global agency brand.

“Like BlueFocus, we have a track record of amazingly fast growth, driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a culture that embraces the future and the fundamental changes to the marketing landscape. More importantly, we share the ambition to become bigger and better on a global scale, with the belief that our businesses will be stronger together.”

Oscar Zhao, Chief Executive Officer, BlueFocus, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Robin, Nathan and the rest of the We Are Social team to the BlueFocus group. As the world’s largest specialist social media agency network, We Are Social provides the perfect platform for us to expand our digital operations outside China.

“We Are Social has been exceptionally successful over the last five years, and we’re confident that with our support, they can go on to do even bigger and better things."

The transaction is subject to Chinese regulatory approval, which is expected to be received within three months. We Are Social was advised by Results International and Osborne Clarke, and BlueFocus by BDO and Ashurst.

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