Universum, the global leader in employer branding, has been acquired by e-recruitment firm StepStone which is part of Europe’s largest digital publishing house Axel Springer. The Stockholm-based global employer branding firm, with offices in six continents, has grown rapidly in the last few years and continues to run the world’s largest talent survey.
Founded in 1988, Universum works with over 2,000 employers from all over the world. The company provides services ranging from analytics to advisory and activation services for employer brands and has introduced new cutting edge digital solutions for the industry such as Access and Access Social. The firm has a multi-faceted portfolio of services to help companies become more attractive to talent. Among their clients are a significant portion of the world’s largest and most attractive employers.
“We have been careful in finding the right company to be acquired by. We have turned down more than one prospective buyer since we were looking for someone that has all the pieces we lack to accelerate the next steps in our development. We believe that Axel Springer and StepStone have the right ambitions and culture to do this successfully”, says Petter Nylander, CEO of Universum.
With its headquarters in Berlin, Axel Springer is the largest media house in Europe, active in over 40 markets, with a €3.3bn revenue in 2016. StepStone is a global e-recruitment firm within the media house. They also own newspapers such as Bild and Die Welt, Business Insider, Politico Europe, and eMarketer are investments in their digital portfolio.
Since 2013, Universum has been focusing on digitizing and internationalizing the business, before this shift in focus most of the revenue came from print content and advertising in the Nordic region. Today, the lion’s share of the incomes are digital, from Universum’s operations in 58 markets.
“Over the last five years we focused on two shifts: from regional to global and from traditional channels to digital and social. The next five years will be about integrating into the new structure, leveraging our new infrastructure and scaling with the help of their eco-system”, says Nylander.
The Universum brand will remain unchanged and continue to operate independently. The brand is renowned for its high-quality data gathering on employer attractiveness and is thus a reliable source for both employers and employees. Day-to-day business activities will also stay the same for Universum employees. However, Universum will benefit from the StepStone Group’s resources and will be able to offer its customers even better service in future.
Axel Springer’s and StepStone’s intent is to set up employer branding as a new business area, where Universum will be the engine.
“We are very impressed with Universum’s unique global position, its people, clients and powerful offering within Employer Branding based on its proprietary global data and analytics. We want to fast forward the success of Universum by combining our organizational assets and market knowledge” says Ralf Baumann CEO of StepStone an Axel Springer Company.
Lars-Henrik Friis Molin, founder of Universum: “I am very pleased to place Universum in the hands of Axel Springer and StepStone. For me, the time since the company was founded 30 years ago has been a fantastic journey. The fact that this journey has been such a success is mainly due to all of our talented employees. Together with Universum’s clients, can look forward to an exciting future with an even greater global presence. I have always been Universum’s biggest fan – and that will remain the case in future and will also serve on the Board of Directors for Universum in the years to come.”
Universum has been supported by Beringer Finance and business law firm DLA Piper in the negotiations with Axel Springer.
ACCESS THE NEW WORLD OF TALENT. Universum is a global leader in employer branding. Over the past 30 years, we have established ourselves in 50 markets globally and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. Our services include actionable research, strategic consulting, and data-driven communications and social media solutions for talent branding, sourcing, and analytics. We are a trusted partner to over 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as to global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. We work with over 2,000 universities, alumni groups, and professional organizations to gather insights from students and professionals in order to advise employers on how to attract and retain talent that fits their culture and purpose. On an annual basis, Universum surveys over 1,500,000 students and professionals worldwide. Find out more at www.universumglobal.com
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