Today BBC Worldwide officials and representatives of U.S. billionaire Brad Kelley announced the sale of Lonely Planet to a company controlled by Kelley for AUS$75 million (£51.5 million).
The announcement confirms Skift’s widely reported scoop from two weeks ago about the sale and the buyer.
According the terms of the deal the BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British public broadcaster, is selling the travel brand to NC2 Media, a new Nashville-based digital media company owned by Kelley and run by Daniel Houghton and Michael Rosenblum. Lonely Planet CEO Matt Goldberg is stepping down from his post.
BBC Worldwide and NC2 Media issued a joint statement which used broad strokes to explain the sale and provided an introduction to the very young media company that was buying the publisher.
Paul Dempsey, Interim CEO BBC Worldwide, says: “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. This deal begins a new chapter for Lonely Planet and signifies the end of one for BBC Worldwide.” NC2 Media is a US based media company primarily engaged in the creation, acquisition, and distribution of quality digital content and the development of the technologies that make this possible. The company is poised to leverage the opportunities presented by the changing landscape within the industry. The business is headquartered in Nashville Tennessee, and led by Daniel Houghton, its executive director, who will take on additional responsibility at Lonely Planet as its Chief Operating Officer.
The BBC Worldwide had paid a total of £130.2 million over four years to buy Lonely Planet. This selling price represents nearly an £80 million loss in value during the BBC’s ownership. This is despite an increase in both revenue and profit during the period. According to the BBC, “during the time BBC Worldwide has owned Lonely Planet its annual revenue has grown from £810m in 2007 to £1.08bn in 2012 – with profit increasing from £111m in 2007 to £155m in 2012.”
The BBC Trust issued a statement criticising BBC Worldwide’s decision and the loss in value, stating “Given the significant financial loss to Worldwide … we have asked the BBC executive to commission a review of lessons learnt and report to the Trust with its findings.”
Early reports stated that offices in Oakland, CA, Melbourne, and London will continue to operate as is, but sources in London say that the Australia office will be eventually be closed and the majority of the business moved to the United States.
A version of this post originally appeared on Skift and is republished with permission.
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