North Star Travel Group

Wasserstein Partners, investing along with Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund Board, John Hancock, and Storebrand Insurance, acquired Northstar Travel Group, a provider of information, databases and software for the travel and meetings industries.

The seller in the transaction is the Wicks Group, a New York private equity firm focused on lower-middle-market information, education and media companies in the U.S. and Canada. New York –based Wasserstein is investing through its Wasserstein Partners IV, a middle-market buyout fund managed by the WP Capital Management PE firm, which focuses on media and communications, consumer products and water and industrial sectors.

Wasserstein will provide capital and investment experience to Northstar Travel, says Thomas Kemp, Northstar’s CEO. The list of brands of the Secaucus, New Jersey, -based company includes Travel Weekly, TravelAge West, Business Travel News, Successful Meetings, Meetings & Conventions, Travel Weekly China, Incentive, M&C China and Web in Travel. Northstar also produces events in thirteen countries in retail travel, corporate travel, travel technology and the meetings industry. The company also owns Phocuswright, a business intelligence and event producer, and a majority of Inntopia, an e-commerce cloud software provider.

Terms of deal were not disclosed. Michael Struble, Wasserstein partner, says Northstar will continue to grow through geographic expansion, new product development and strategic acquisitions.

Harris Williams was Northstar Travel’s financial adviser in the transaction, with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP providing legal advice. For Wasserstein, Macquarie Capital provided financing and acted as financial adviser, with Jones Day serving as legal adviser.

Recent travel-related deals have included the Abry Partners PE firm acquiring Direct Travel, provider of corporate travel booking services, from Silver Oak Services Partners LLC; Expedia Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE) agreeing to acquire HomeAway Inc. (Nasdaq: AWAY), also in 2015; and TA Associates PE firm investing the Plusgrade revenue service for the travel industry, all in 2015. Also, Thoma Bravo won Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2014 M&A Mid-Market Award for Deal of the Year for the TravelClick purchase, the cloud-based software services provider for the hospitality industry.

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