Keystone Academic Solutions And Educations Media Group (EMG) Announce Merger

The newly merged company will be called Keystone Education Group, with annual unique student user traffic exceeding 110 million.

OSLO, Norway, June - Keystone Academic Solutions ("Keystone") and EMG - Educations Media Group ("EMG") announced that they are merging to form the Keystone Education Group ("KEG"), with combined revenues of more than USD $50 million.

The shared mission of Keystone and EMG is to help students make one of the most important decisions of their lifetimes – namely, which higher education degree program or course to attend. Combined, KEG helps more than 110 million students each year, across 460 websites, with their higher education decision-making.  Well-known KEG websites include Masterstudies.comFindAMasters.comEducations.com, and Studentum.se.

Both Keystone and EMG are leaders in the global market for higher education marketing and student recruitment, with strong customer bases across the UK, Europe, the US, and the Nordics. The newly formed KEG serves a customer base of more than 5500 higher education providers, combining Keystone´s strong study abroad market presence globally and its leading domestic market position in the United Kingdom with EMG's leading domestic market position in the Nordics. 

Current Keystone CEO Erik Harrell will become CEO of KEG, and EMG CEO and co-founder, Fredrik Söderlindh, will serve on KEG's senior leadership team as Head of M&A and a member of KEG's board of directors. The new chairman of KEG's board will be Keith Fransson, who has long and solid experience from the education industry as CEO of Hermods (acquired by Academedia) and as the chairman and investor of Urkund and ILT education. Keith Fransson will also invest and become a shareholder in KEG.

"During the past 12 months, Keystone has successfully implemented a strong organic and inorganic growth strategy, with pro-forma revenue growth expected to be up more than 300% in 2021 versus 2019 after the closing of this merger. The formation of KEG and merger of equals with EMG brings us one step closer to becoming the most trusted and scaled resource for students in the world and a global leader for enrollment generation for higher education institutions," said Harrell.

"Both companies have demonstrated a strong commitment to students and education providers over the years and are now set to bring even better solutions to this market as a combined force, with enhanced competencies delivered at scale," Harrell said.

Moving forward, the new group will focus on four core operating segments, including study abroad, domestic student recruiting, corporate training, and global student recruitment services. According to a recent study completed by a leading tier 1 strategic consulting firm on KEG's behalf, the total addressable market for KEG in its core geographies – the United States, the United Kingdom, the Nordics, France, Germany, and Spain – is approximately (USD $35 billion), with growth estimated to be north of 15% due to a systemic shift towards digital marketing, accelerated by the dampening effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on more traditional offline marketing channels such as physical student fairs and other prospective student events which require travel.

Fredrik Söderlindh, CEO and founder of EMG, said,

"We founded EMG in 2001 as a group of three students based on our own needs – to find the right education. We are very pleased to begin a new chapter with Keystone and to keep our shared vision of helping everyone in the world to find the right education, now on a much wider and global scale."

Both Keystone and EMG have strong backgrounds in M&A, with Keystone recently acquiring UK-based FindAUniversity and US college athletics placement firm CSUSA. EMG has led a similar growth path, acquiring the study abroad agent Blueberry, and UK-based site Floodlight.co.uk and the adult learning segment of Hotcourses.com, as well AllaStudier.se. 

Viking Venture and Verdane, both leading growth investors in software companies in the Nordics and the financial investors behind Keystone and EMG, respectively, will remain shareholders of KEG post-merger. The transaction is expected to close no later than July.

This PR first appeared here.

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