More arrivals at Northstar

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Purchase of latest in string of deals designed to strengthen portfolio Despite the challenging economy and continuing tight credit markets, Tom Kemp, chairman-CEO of Northstar Travel Media, has been actively buying up media properties to bolster the b-to-b media company. Since the start of the year, Kemp has taken advantage of attractive prices and pulled the trigger on three separate yet complementary deals. (Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.)
  • In September, Northstar announced it had acquired, which serves the corporate travel management sector., whose assets include and, will be merged with Northstar's Business Travel News brand to form the BTN Group.
  • In March, Northstar purchased the Nielsen Business Media Travel Group brands, including Business Travel News, Incentive, Meeting News, Successful Meetings and MiMegasite, an online portal serving the meetings industry, from Nielsen Co.
  • In January, Northstar acquired the Original Home Based Travel Agent Show and Conference from Real Trade Shows. Northstar then launched Travel Weekly CruiseWorld 2010, a trade show for travel agents who sell cruise vacations, in April and colocated it with the Home Based show. The 2010 Fall Home Based Travel Agent Show and Conference late this month will be colocated with Travel Weekly's LeisureWorld event.
  • “What we've been trying to do is take advantage of, frankly, a weakened economic environment to strengthen our core markets' positions with additional brands and, particularly, additional channels of information into those core markets,” said Kemp, the former chairman-CEO of Penton Media who took charge of Northstar in January 2009. Kemp said the Nielsen deal opened up a new vertical for Northstar within the corporate travel sector, and he stressed that there was untapped value in the brands acquired despite their heavy reliance on print advertising. The previous owner, he said, “hadn't take advantage of some of the opportunities to broaden and develop their digital and face-to-face revenue steams.” He addeed that since Northstar acquired Business Travel News, it has redesigned both the print publication and its website. “We're expanding staff,” he said. “This is not about consolidation.” Reed Phillips, managing partner at investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said Northstar isn't necessarily trying to grab market share, but rather it aims to shore up its existing portfolio with related properties and bolt-on deals. “They're filling in the areas where they're not as strong and filling in the gaps to provide a wider array of services,” he said. Phillips added that offering customers more “one-stop shopping” is increasingly top of mind for b-to-b media executives. Kemp said he intends to acquire other brands. “We'll continue to look to build out properties, particularly in digital and face to face, and we'll do it opportunistically, with small tuck-ins,” he said. “We're not going out and doing $100 million deals.”
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