BBC Worldwide sells Lonely Planet to U.S. company

By Jerry Limone
BBC Worldwide has agreed to sell travel-guide business Lonely Planet for about $78 million to NC2 Media, a Nashville-based company whose primary shareholder is billionaire Brad Kelley.

BBC has been looking to sell Lonely Planet for the past year. It said Lonely Planet’s financial performance has been impacted in recent years by the continued strength of the Australian dollar, the rapid consolidation of the publishing industry and a global recession that affected leisure travel.

Paul Dempsey, BBC Worldwide’s interim CEO, said Lonely Planet “no longer fits with our plans to put BBC brands at the heart of our business.”

He added that NC2 Media is “better placed to build and invest in the business.”

Daniel Houghton, executive director of NC2 Media, said, “The challenge and promise before us is to marry the world’s greatest travel information and guidebook company with the limitless potential of 21st century digital technology. If we can do this, and I believe we can, we can build a business that, while remaining true to the things that made Lonely Planet great in the past, promises to make it even greater in the future.”

BBC Worldwide said Lonely Planet is the top travel guidebook in the U.S., Australia and the U.K., with more than 120 million unique users visiting its website every year and more than 11 million apps downloaded.

The sale is expected to close at the end of March.
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