Chinese PR giant to invest up to $124m in S'pore firm

PHOTO: Chinese PR giant to invest up to $124m in S'pore firm

A chinese communications giant will pump up to US$100 million (S$124.3 million) into a Singapore investor relations firm as part of its global expansion plans.

BlueFocus Communication Group president Peter Mao told The Straits Times last Tuesday that this money will be put into home-grown company Financial PR over the next five years.

In June 2011, it bought 40 per cent of Financial PR, which has 22 staff members in Singapore, for HK$80 million (S$12.8 million).

Financial PR group managing director Kathy Zhang said last Tuesday that even with a promised war chest of up to US$100 million, the agency was not looking to acquire at the moment.

However, she said the firm would keep an eye out for opportunities in the region in areas such as corporate governance advisory.

She added that the investor relations industry in Singapore "has gone through consolidation" over the past five years.

Financial PR earned HK$20 million in 2011.

BlueFocus recently also snapped up a stake in the parent company of local public relations agency Citigate Dewe Rogerson I.mage in April this year.

It paid £36.5 million (S$72.3 million) to acquire a stake of nearly 20 per cent in London-listed Huntsworth, according to media reports. The deal was completed last month. Huntsworth also owns public relations firm Grayling.

Mr Mao said that BlueFocus was looking overseas, given cheaper valuations in markets such as the United States and Europe, where it has recently acquired communications companies.

He added that it aims to raise the percentage of its revenue from outside China to 30 per cent.

The firm is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's ChiNext board and has a market capitalisation of about 25 billion yuan (S$5 billion).

Mr Mao said that BlueFocus, which employs about 2,000 people, is an entirely private company without Chinese government ties.

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