Keystone-backed MERGE buys Sandbox

MERGE, which is backed by Keystone Capital, has acquired Chicago-based Sandbox, a digital agency.

MERGE, which is backed by Keystone Capital, has acquired Chicago-based Sandbox, a digital agency. No financial terms were disclosed. Lincoln International advised Sandbox on the deal.

PRESS RELEASE

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Keystone Capital, Inc. (“Keystone”) is pleased to announce that its portfolio company, MERGE, has completed the acquisition of the Sandbox Group (“Sandbox”), a leading independent, full-service, strategic and digital agency based in Chicago. The combination forms one of the largest independent agencies in North America with more than 600 employees in seven locations across the United States and Canada.

Keystone initially acquired MERGE, a premium creative technology agency, in December 2018. The Company’s capabilities include business & digital strategy, marketing execution, analytics, experience design, technology development, and media services. MERGE delivers customer engagement solutions across market sectors with specific expertise in healthcare and financial services. MERGE is headquartered in Chicago with additional offices in Boston and Atlanta. For more information on MERGE, please visit Mergeworld.com.

Sandbox is a leading independent, full-service agency which helps companies accelerate growth and drive business transformation. Sandbox has an impressive client roster which includes: Abbott Diabetes, American Express, Boston Scientific, Sprint, and LG among others. The agency operates from five locations across the United States and Canada: Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Toronto, and Orange County. For more information on Sandbox, please visit Sandbox.com.

For several years MERGE and Sandbox have been on parallel paths building agencies that promote health, wealth, and happiness. Combined, the entities offer a true 360-degree view of multiple markets with deep expertise within the healthcare and financial services verticals. Joining forces will provide all clients stronger advanced digital capabilities, specifically in areas such as performance marketing and experience design.

“Many CMOs are seeking to simultaneously elevate their brand and drive business growth, but efforts are often disjointed and diametrically opposed. The partnership of MERGE and Sandbox balances brand building and demand building marketing capabilities as a remedy to those challenges,” said Patrick Venetucci, Chief Executive Officer of MERGE. “Uniting our complementary digital capabilities, MERGE is now even better positioned to help catapult our clients to the top of their categories.”

“Sandbox is a terrific complement to MERGE rounding out our healthcare vertical with deep pharma expertise, providing advanced performance marketing capabilities, and adding shopper marketing through their work with Sprint and LG. We look forward to aligning the agencies more closely in the coming months and watching their success as they collaborate to serve clients,” commented Bill Sommerschield, Managing Director at Keystone.

All of the members of the MERGE and Sandbox executive teams will remain in leadership positions with Patrick Venetucci serving as Chief Executive Officer of the newly combined company, which will operate under the MERGE brand.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Legal counsel was provided to MERGE and Keystone by Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, LLP. Sandbox was advised by Lincoln International in connection with this transaction.

About Keystone Capital, Inc.
Keystone Capital, Inc. is a private investment firm based in Chicago, Illinois. Formed in 1994, its mission is to acquire and build a portfolio of exceptionally high-quality, mid-sized businesses that are leaders in their niche markets. Keystone is differentiated by its investment of personal as opposed to third-party capital, which results in investment horizon flexibility and an ability to enter into true long-term operating partnerships with the professional management teams of its companies.