Morningstar Inc. is investing in a research firm that will help it provide information about private equity firms and funds to its institutional clients.

Morningstar announced today that it had acquired a minority equity stake in PitchBook Data Inc., a Seattle-based company that offers detailed data and information about private equity transactions, investors, companies, limited partners and service providers. Morningstar says it expects to incorporate information from the PitchBook database into Morningstar Direct in the coming months. Morningstar Direct, aimed at institutional clients, is a platform that provides data and research for portfolio managers, investment consultants, financial product managers, professors and others to evaluate investment performance.

"Private equity investments represent a significant asset pool and have been attracting increasing investor interest because of their low correlation with the stock market," says Liz Kirscher, president of Morningstar's data services business.