Expect a swathe of consolidation in the European e-learning sector in the coming months. Edxus Group, a new London-based corporate operating edtech company, is planning to plough in €50-60 million ($64-$77 million) over the next 18 months to develop and acquire European e-learning businesses and build out a single regional player with the scale to compete against U.S. edtech giants, it said today.
Edxus plans to execute the first phase of its “buy and build” strategy over the next three to four months, deploying an initial €15-20 million to “consolidate a handful of European e-learning companies”. Asked whether it’s looking to acquire startups or not, Edxus said its interest is in “companies with €2m to €10m turnover and with an established presence in the market” — so early stage e-learning startups are not on its radar, at least. It added that target companies will also have “a top line revenue growth of 25% year on year”.
It did not specify which companies specifically it is looking at but the general target is those serving the K-12/primary and secondary school market. Northern Europe and the U.K. are the initial markets for the first wave of investment, with other European regions “under assessment for future plans”. The aim is to bring together “complementary expertise and products in curricula, data and instructional systems”, it added.
Edxus said its overarching aim is to rival similar U.S.-backed moves. In the U.S. edtech giants such as Pearson, Blackboard, Macmillan, Kaplan and McGraw-Hill top the list of acquisitive e-learning companies. The European market is more fragmented and ripe for consolidation, according to Edxus — meaning a local scale player is needed to ensure U.S. companies don’t end up dominating the region too.
“The US e-Learning market is already a few years ahead of Europe,” commented Edxus Group co-founder and CEO Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet in a statement. “Unless we can create scale and a fertile ecosystem, the European e-learning space will be dominated by American content and software. This buy and build strategy is designed to help foster the consolidation, scale and operational efficiencies required in Europe to help e-Learning companies to thrive.”
Edxus’ initial investment funds come from its partner and backer: specialist media investment and advisory firm IBIS Capital. Edxus confirmed IBIS will be funding the full program of consolidation, not just the first wave.
“The European e-Learning industry currently displays both disruptive innovation and rapid growth but it is highly fragmented and lacks a dominant player. These are all characteristics of an attractive pre-consolidation phase industry so we expect our strategy to help the marketplace as a whole meet its enormous potential,” said IBIS Capital’s co-founder and CEO, Charles McIntyre, in a statement.