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Financial Communications Campaign of the Year


Silver
Campaign Title

Announcing the First Acquisition of an English Premier League Club by a Mainland Chinese Owner
Client

Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Ltd
Agency

FTI Consulting

In August, West Bromwich Albion Football Club was acquired by Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development, a sports-industry-focused consortium controlled by Chinese businessman Lai Guochuan, together with Palm Eco Town Development, one of China’s largest landscape design and construction companies listed, and regulated asset-management company Yunyi Investment. FTI Consulting was engaged to provide strategic communications support in China and the UK around the acquisition—particularly significant as it marked the first mainland-Chinese purchase of a Premier League club, following various acquisitions in the lower tiers of English football.

Both the Club’s longstanding owner and chairman and Lai’s consortium wanted to ensure that communications around the transaction were handled efficiently across borders, and that the acquisition was welcomed by stakeholders in China and the UK. FTI advised and managed the process, relying on its experience with high-profile cross-border M&A transactions and strong understanding of challenges facing Chinese companies with business aspirations in the UK.

 

The project needed a degree of deft handling, given the transaction was announced against the backdrop of several challenges. A number of Chinese deals had encountered resistance from domestic regulators and government bodies, creating a negative profile around transactions and in some cases proving detrimental to their success. In addition, several high-profile acquisitions of European football clubs by Chinese buyers had received unfavourable media coverage, with owners being accused of lacking commitment to the long-term success of the clubs or of purchasing them only as a vanity project. There were also reports of football fans being fearful of a Chinese football buying spree and what it would mean for the future of the club’s ethos.

 

Bronze
Campaign Title

Prescription for Success
Client

Human Health Holdings Limited
Agency

Strategic Public Relations Group Limited

Established in 1997, Human Health Holdings is a leading private integrated healthcare service provider in Hong Kong. With comprehensive outpatient capabilities covering general practice services, specialised services and dental services, the group provides medical services through a strategic network in Hong Kong under four main brands—Human Health, Perfect Life, Polyhealth Specialists and Poly Dental. Its corporate motto ‘From our heart; for your health’ summarises how Human Health has forged its strong reputation with a mission of providing patient-centred and quality-focused services.

To realise its development goals, the company sought to list on the Hong Kong exchange in the first quarter of 2016, and through the support of shareholders expedite its strategic growth across Hong Kong and China. However, Human Health had to first face a global stock market crash followed by fierce competition in the IPO market as 10 IPOs were launched during March 2016 alone. Furthermore, some of these IPOs involved companies with much larger market capitalisation values. Compounding matters, Human Health needed to comply with professional codes of conduct as set out by The Medical Council of Hong Kong, which include strict limits on promotional activities.

SPRG adopted a two-pronged strategy of education and differentiation to upstage Human Health’s peers and IPO rivals, Human Health’s IPO received an overwhelmingly positive market response, despite the unstable global markets. It was oversubscribed by approximately 668 times and its stock price rose 111.6 percent in the first trading month versus a rise of 1.4 percent for HSI over the same period. SPRG continued to assist Human Health to organise various activities, including media site visits, exclusive meetings with key opinion leaders, and investor cocktails to disseminate the company’s strategic plan and progress in Hong Kong and China following its successful listing.