Wicks Group Nearly Halfway Home On Fourth Fund

Firm: The Wicks Group of Companies

Fund: Wicks Capital Partners IV LP

Target: $559.9 million

Placement Agent: Credit Suisse

The Wicks Group of Companies, a prior owner of Vibe magazine, is making headway on its fourth fund.

The New York-based media specialist has raised about $278.4 million, according to a form D filing. The firm is targeting $559.9 million for Wicks Capital Partners IV LP, the May 12 filing said. Credit Suisse is the placement agent.

The pool has received a $40 million commitment from the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. Wicks Group has proposed “an annual management fee of 2.0 percent per annum of commitments during the commitment period and, after the commitment period, 2.0 percent per annum on net invested capital,” according to February board minutes from the retirement system.

The buyout firm’s last fund, Wicks Communication & Media Partners III LP, raised $535 million in 2004. The pool has generated a net IRR of 12.2 percent, according to September 2010 data from backer Regents of the University of California.

Wicks Group invests in information, education and media companies. One of its more high-profile deals turned out badly. In 2006, Wicks acquired Vibe, the urban music magazine. The magazine closed down in 2009. InterMedia Partners later that year acquired Vibe from its lenders after the magazine was shuttered. In February, InterMedia sold a stake in Vibe Holdings to Magic Johnson Enterprises and Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos.

But Wicks Group has scored plenty of wins. In 2009, the PE firm sold Penn Foster Education Group for $170 million in cash to The Princeton Review. The Penn Foster sale represented a return of 6.5x invested capital for Wicks Group, according to Buyouts.Carter Bales, Edgar Berner, and Craig Klosk founded Wicks in 1989. Both Bales and Berner are listed as senior advisors of the firm, according to the Wicks Group Web site. Klosk is still a Wicks managing partner (and co-founder). Other MPs include Matthew Gormly, Daniel Kortick and Daniel Black.

Bales was a managing partner at Wicks until late 2006 when he assumed the Emeritus title. He co-founded NewWorld Capital Group, which invest in environmental opportunities, in June 2009. Berner is currently with John Lang, a New York investment advisor. It was unclear in what capacity.

Officials at Wicks did not return calls requesting comment.