Huntsworth Rises After Chinese P.R. Firm Invests: London Mover

Huntsworth Plc (HNT) rose the most in four years after investors bet that the backing of a Chinese company will help the operator of the Citigate public relations firm boost business in the world’s second-largest economy.

Huntsworth gained 16 percent to 61 pence in London, the biggest advance since December 2008 and the best performance today on the FTSE All-Share Index. China’s BlueFocus Communication Group agreed to invest 36.5 million pounds ($56.4 million) through a subscription of new shares as part of a global strategic alliance, London-based Huntsworth said in a statement.

“Both groups will be able to tap into each other’s client base, skill sets and people while further expansion can be undertaken jointly,” Paul Richards, an analyst at Numis Securities Ltd., said in a note. The deal is “transforming” for both companies, said Richards, who increased his target price for Huntsworth to 80 pence from 65 pence.

BlueFocus intends to buy 63 million new shares in Huntsworth at a price of 58 pence each, a premium of 10 percent over yesterday’s closing price. Huntsworth will use the proceeds to “significantly reduce” debt and invest in growth, it said.

BlueFocus, Asia’s largest public relations company, will take a 19.8 percent stake and CEO Oscar Zhao will join the U.K. company’s board, Huntsworth said today. “BlueFocus provides impetus for organic revenue growth driven by digital, startups in fast-growing geographies, and talent,” it said.

The U.K. P.R. firm got just 6 percent of its revenue last year from outside Europe and the U.S. It served about 2,200 clients last year including 83 Fortune 500 companies and 44 businesses on the FTSE 100 Index. Customers include Tullow Oil Plc and Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc.

Huntsworth also said today that pretax profit rose 17 percent in 2012 to 22.5 million pounds, while revenue declined 1.8 percent to 173 million pounds.

To contact the reporter on this story: Finbarr Flynn at fflynn3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net.

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