BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corp., last week acquired a 75% stake in Australian-based Lonely Planet, the world's largest publisher of guidebooks.

Though Lonely Planet's core business is in print, both parties spoke of synergies in electronic media, with BBC Worldwide's nonexecutive chairman, Etienne de Villiers, commenting that the deal would "strengthen Lonely Planet's visibility and growth potential, particularly in the digital arena."

He also said the deal would expose Lonely Planet readers to a "wide range of BBC content that connects with their interests." As examples, he cited the series "Planet Earth" and Michael Palin's "New Europe."

Lonely Planet's cofounder, Tony Wheeler, said that BBC Worldwide's digital and broadcasting expertise made them attractive partners (see "In the Hot Seat: Tony Wheeler").

Though best known for guidebooks, Lonely Planet also runs Lonely Planet Television, which produces the series "Lonely Planet Six Degrees" for Discovery Networks. It also has a video site, www.lonelyplanet.tv, where travelers can upload and view videos created by Lonely Planet.

Australian radio mogul John Singleton sold his 30% interest in Lonely Planet in the deal. Wheeler and his wife and Lonely Planet cofounder, Maureen Wheeler, will retain a 25% interest in the company.

Lonely Planet CEO Judy Slatyer will stay on, and the headquarters will remain in Melbourne, Australia.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

To contact Editor in Chief Arnie Weissmann, send e-mail to [email protected].

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