BBC sells Lonely Planet for $75m

Travel guide business Lonely Planet is to be sold by the BBC to US company NC2 Media.

BBC Worldwide will receive $75 million for Lonely Planet, with an initial $60 million paid on completion and $15 million in one year’s time.

The BBC’s commercial arm acquired 75% of Lonely Planet in 2007 for £88.1 million and the remaining 25% in 2011 for £42.17 million.

The BBC said Lonely Planet suffered from the prolonged global recession and the Australian dollar appreciating to 58% against the UK pound – 80% of Lonely Planet’s revenues are generated from foreign currency.

The sale follows the corporation’s commercial review last year which set out the company’s strategy to focus on BBC brands and promote the best of its output globally.

The BBC Trust has approved the sale, following criticism of BBC Worldwide’s acquisition of Lonely Planet in 2007.

The Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport attacked the purchase in 2009, saying it demonstrated the expansion of an area “where the BBC has no, or very limited existing interests”.

BBC Worldwide interim chief executive Paul Demsey said: “We acquired Lonely Planet in 2007 when both our strategy and the market conditions were quite different.

“Since then, Lonely Planet has increased its presence in digital, magazine publishing and emerging markets whilst also growing its global market share, despite difficult economic conditions.

“However, we have also recognised that it no longer fits with our plans to put BBC brands at the heart of our business and have decided to sell the company to NC2 Media who are better placed to build and invest in the business.”

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