Northern Pacific Group has acquired Merrill Brink International, the languages services division of Merrill Corporation, and completed the add-on acquisition of KJ International Resources. The operations of these companies will be housed in United Language Group, a new platform company formed by Northern Pacific. Yukon Partners and Hamilton Lane provided mezzanine capital and acquired minority equity positions in United Language Group to back Northern Pacific.
With these two acquisitions, United Language Group (ULG) will have approximately $50 million in annual revenues, immediately ranking it among the top 25 language services companies worldwide and sixth in the US. Northern Pacific intends to add-on complementary companies with the goal of creating one of the largest language service providers in the world.
“We’re excited about this investment in the language business and we see tremendous opportunities for growth, both organically and through further acquisitions. We expect to be very active in this highly fragmented $40 billion industry,” said Peter Offenhauser, Partner at Northern Pacific Group.
Northern Pacific Group invests in companies with $10 million to $100 million in revenues that are active in the technology and business services sectors. In addition to United Language Group, the firm has three other platforms: Delaget, a SaaS provider of restaurant data technologies acquired in March 2015; Outsell, a SaaS provider of digital marketing services used by automotive brands acquired in March 2015; and Renters Warehouse, a provider of outsourced property management services acquired in September 2015. Northern Pacific is based in the Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata (www.northernpacificgroup.com).
Northern Pacific partnered on this transaction with language services veterans Jeff Brink and Hans Fenstermacher. Jeff Brink and Greg Brink founded Merrill Brink as PH Brink International in 1987 and sold the business to Merrill Corporation in 2005.
Today, Merrill Brink services include document translation, machine translation, website conversion, desktop publishing, testing services, proofreading, linguistic validation, e-Learning translation, and technical translation. Merrill Brink’s customers include multi-national companies in industries such as life sciences, manufacturing, travel, and hospitality, as well as governmental entities and law firms. The company has offices in St. Paul, New York, London, Galway and Hong Kong (www.merrillbrink.com).
KJ International is also provider of translation services. Customers are active in the medical and technical industries – such as biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical devices – and other industries subject to a high level of oversight and regulation. KJ International is headquartered in Minneapolis (www.kjinternational.com).
“We are thrilled to launch our strategy with the acquisition of Merrill Brink and KJ,” said Jeff Brink, CEO of ULG. “We view ULG as an ideal platform for our expansion plans, which include additional near-term acquisitions.”
Yukon makes subordinated debt and equity investments of $10 million to $40 million in middle-market, private equity sponsored acquisitions. The firm invests in buyouts, growth and platform strategies, recapitalizations, mergers & acquisitions, public- to-private buyouts, and refinancings. Yukon Partners is headquartered in Minneapolis (www.yukonpartners.com).
Hamilton Lane is an alternative investment management firm with more than $33 billion in discretionary assets under management and an additional $191 billion in advisory assets. The firm is headquartered in Philadelphia and has offices throughout the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia (www.hamiltonlane.com).
Bell Capital Finance provided senior debt to support the transactions. Backbone Capital Advisors (www.backbonecap.com), a provider of capital sourcing services based in Studio City, CA, assisted in the arrangement of debt financing. Fredrikson & Byron (www.fredlaw.com) served as legal counsel to Northern Pacific.
© 2016 Private Equity Professional • 6-29-16