Golden Gate Capital, a $12 billion San Francisco-based private equity firm with a significant software and technology portfolio, has entered into an agreement to acquire library automation solutions provider Ex Libris Group from current owner Leeds Equity Partners, the companies announced this morning. The deal is expected to be completed in December. Under new ownership, Ex Libris will remain an independent business based in Jerusalem and run by the current management team, the company explained in the announcement. Additional terms of the sale were not disclosed.
“What Golden Gate sees in us is a market leader,” Mark Triest, president of Ex Libris North America, told LJ. “Our product strategy and plans—the products we have today, the [plans for] the next generation, and the growth that’s there are substantial. They’re looking at us as a great opportunity to make an investment and really grow a company.”
Private equity firms have become active players in the library automation field in recent years. Ex Libris itself has been owned by private equity since 2006, when it was acquired by Francisco Partners, which subsequently purchased Endeavor Information Systems from parent Elsevier and folded the two companies together.
And, Golden Gate Capital is no stranger to the library field. In 2005, the firm acquired then-struggling Geac Computer Corporation, which had once had a significant presence in library tech. It then folded the company into Infor Library and Information Solutions, which remains a prominent provider in Europe.
Yet more recently, these transactions have not involved contraction. After Leeds Equity purchased Ex Libris in 2009, the company maintained its focus on growth through research and development. And in March, Huntsman Gay Global Capital and JMI Equity made investments in Innovative Interfaces Inc, citing opportunities for growth within the field.
“Overall, in our market, the education market, there’s been a lot of private equity activity,” Triest said. Pointing to other recent transactions, such as the purchase of Blackboard by Providence Equity for $1.64 billion, he added “I think it’s a recognition by private equity that technology companies in education are attractive.”
Jake Mizrahi, a managing director of Golden Gate Capital, praised recent innovations at Ex Libris in a press statement.
“The Company has successfully carried out an impressive transition to cloud-computing technology and to a new business model while continuing to sell and support local and hybrid installations of its solutions,” he said. “We look forward to working with the strong leadership team at Ex Libris to extend the Company’s offerings and facilitate its future growth.”
The current management team at Ex Libris will stay in place, and the company’s customers shouldn’t expect any changes, Triest said.
Golden Gate is a much larger firm than Leeds in terms of investments, and where Leeds has more of a focus on education, training, and information services, Golden Gate has more of a focus on software companies. Out of the firm’s $12 billion under management, about $5 billion is invested in software and tech.
“The people we’ll be working with are experts in the software business,” Triest said. “The way I see it, for this next phase of our company, which is how to take these next generation products that we have [Alma and Primo] and put fuel behind their growth, I think they’re a terrific firm to work with.”
Supporting research for this article was provided by Gary Price, Editor, LJ INFOdocket