June 7, 2016 Last Updated 2:20 pm

Private Equity companies play ping pong with B2B media firm Northstar Travel Group

Wasserstein Partners acquires Northstar Travel Group from Wicks Group, who bought it from Boston Ventures, who bought it from Cahners Business Information back in 2001

Ah, the joys of B2B publishing, where one private equity company buys the properties of another with the hope that one day they won’t be stuck with the property themselves and are able to sell their holdings to another PE firm.

MC-cover-300Today, Wicks Group can celebrate a successful sale of Northstar Travel Group to Wasserstein Partners, another private equity company. Wicks Group bought the travel publisher in 2012 from another private equity firm Boston Ventures. Boston Ventures hung onto the property for a long time, by PE standards, as they acquired the company from Cahners Business Information in 2001, around the time Reed had to dump a boatload of magazines because the then CEO’s decision to invest in a tech firm in Los Angeles – paying a fortune for something with little revenue and costing a lot of people their jobs (then, of course, the tech bubble burst).

At the time Boston Ventures sold off Northstar to Wicks Group the CEO, Tom Kemp said in the announcement “We are very pleased to welcome Wicks as our new partner to provide the capital and investment experience to help Northstar achieve its full potential as an information company that serves one of the largest and most dynamic industries in the world: Global travel and tourism.”

Now, four years later, Kemp said in the announcement “We are excited to welcome Wasserstein as our new partner to provide the capital and investment experience to help Northstar achieve our next phase of growth serving one of the largest and most dynamic industries in the world: global travel and tourism.”

From “pleased” to “excited” – guess that’s progress.

Wasserstein also owns ALM Media and Penton Media (Kemp was formerly CEO at Penton), and previously had an interest in Recorded Books, the company that works with Zinio on introducing digital magazines to library systems.

Here is the announcement for the sale of Northstar Travel Group to Wasserstein Partners. Come back in four or five years to find who lands the property next.


SECAUCUS, N.J. – June 7, 2016 — Wasserstein Partners acquired Northstar Travel Group, the leading provider of business-to-business information, content, events, data, research, custom content and software dedicated to the global travel and meeting industries, from the Wicks Group of Companies. Investing alongside Wasserstein Partners IV were its co-investors, Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund Board, John Hancock, and Storebrand Insurance.

Northstar is the owner of well-known brands including Travel Weekly, TravelAge West, Business Travel News, Successful Meetings, Meetings & Conventions, Travel Weekly China, Incentive, M&C China and Web in Travel. The company produces more than 50 face-to-face events in thirteen countries in retail travel, corporate travel, travel technology and the meetings industry. In addition, Northstar owns Phocuswright, the leading research, business intelligence and event producer serving the fastest growing segment of the travel industry, on-line travel distribution. Northstar is also the majority shareholder in Inntopia, the leading SaaS e-commerce software provider serving the mountain destination, activities, and specialty destination travel markets.

“We are excited to welcome Wasserstein as our new partner to provide the capital and investment experience to help Northstar achieve our next phase of growth serving one of the largest and most dynamic industries in the world: global travel and tourism,” said Thomas Kemp, Chairman & CEO of Northstar Travel Group. “Wicks has been a great partner to the company and we thank them for providing guidance and insight over the last four years.”

“We are very impressed with the growth of Northstar Travel Group over the last few years,” said Anup Bagaria, Co-Managing Partner of Wasserstein. “The management team has done an excellent job of transforming its core business into an integrated information, data, software, event and marketing solutions company.”

Michael Struble, Partner of Wasserstein added, “We have known Tom and Northstar for many years. We are excited about investing in the company’s continued transformation and growth through geographic expansion, new product development and strategic acquisitions.”

“We are very pleased to complete the sale of Northstar to Wasserstein,” said Daniel Kortick, Managing Partner of Wicks. “We wish the team and Wasserstein the best as the company embarks on its next phase of growth.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Harris Williams represented Northstar Travel Group in the transaction and acted as its exclusive financial advisor. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP provided legal advice.

Macquarie Capital provided financing and acted as financial advisor to Wasserstein on the transaction. Jones Day served as legal advisor to Wasserstein.

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