Common Ground, M’sian’s coworking space brand reveals a merger
Established in 2017, Common Ground is said to be a mainstay of Malaysia’s co-working scene with 14 office locations across the country, including a newly launched office at Taylor’s Lakeside.
The coworking brand was founded by Juhn Teo and Erman Akinci and has even expanded into Thailand and the Philippines, with two locations in the former country and three locations in the latter.
Five years after launch, Common Ground will merge with Hong Kong-based Hive and Australian brand The Cluster, both coworking brands.
Under Flexi Group leadership, the three brands will stand under one umbrella to boast 45 locations in 12 cities and nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
According to a press release dated August 16, the Group is expected to have its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Despite the merger, Flexi Group will keep the three separate brands, so Common Ground will continue to operate in Malaysia.
The merger is backed by investment from Malaysia-based Emissary Capital as well as Singapore-based Catcha Group.
Both Juhn and Erman are managing partners at Emissary Capital, with Erman also the founder of the boutique investment firm.
“This is also a step in the direction of an IPO that will allow The Flexi Group to strengthen the region’s flexible workspace industry through M&A and lead the future of work in Asia Pacific and beyond. more,” the press release states.
Chris Edwards, formerly COO of Hive, has been appointed CEO of The Flexi Group.
A plan for rapid expansion
Although newly launched, the Flexi Group describes itself as a “rapidly expanding set of leading flexible workspace operations in Asia”.
The merger is believed to be the first in a series of planned consolidation activities. Flexi Group aims to grow by partnering with landlords for joint ventures, rather than doing “large and unwieldy” rental agreements, according to the press release.
The Group’s host partners include Petronas in Malaysia, among other names in Asia.
“We work with some of the top homeowners in the region who see flexible workspaces as the natural evolution of their businesses,” says Chris.
In a press release, The Flexi Group shared that it will continue to expand its three unique brands (Common Ground, the Hive and The Cluster) throughout the Asia Pacific region.
It said more new locations will be opened in Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore over the next 12 months.
According to Chris, the company’s multi-brand structure will allow for a multi-demographic reach. This strategy will allow the umbrella company to partner with homeowners across a variety of property types.
Chris shared: “With many of our brands targeting a different market segment across many different industries, we will see exponential growth and forecast 100 more locations in the coming year. next three years”.
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In addition to Common Ground, Malaysia is also home to many other coworking brands such as Colony, WORQ, etc.
If Flexi Group is headquartered in Malaysia, it could further develop our already strong co-working scene.
However, if the Group plans to launch Hive and The Cluster in Malaysia, I’m not sure if they will offer special enough offerings to differentiate them from other local brands.
As described in the press release, Common Ground, Hive, and The Cluster appear to offer premium or flexible workspaces, although Hive seems a bit more like a storefront space.
With that said, I’m curious to see how this might affect Common Ground operations locally. I’m also curious how coworking space in Malaysia will change, especially as Flexi Group seems to want to add more brands to its portfolio.
Back in 2020, Benjamin Teo, director of another Malaysian coworking company Co-labs Coworking, shared with The Edge that with the pandemic, the coworking market would be “soft” and the industry players larger. with stronger cash flow and liquidity will be able to weather the storm better.
As a result, he predicted that more mergers and acquisitions would happen, which came true two years later.
- Learn more about The Flexi Group here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about matching work here.
Featured image credit: Common ground