We were alerted to this little newsflash by Matador Radar. According to The Guardian, BBC is set to acquire the remaining 25% of Lonely Planet. The BBC bought 75% of the shares back in 2007 for a paltry £88.1m. The remaining 25% were put options left in the hands of Tony and Maureen Wheeler — the founders of Lonely Planet — who have decided to exercise them. The buyout will cost the BBC £42m.
Explains Marcus Arthur, chairman of Lonely Planet and managing director of BBC Worldwide‘s global brands division:
The put option enabled us to benefit from the Wheelers’ experience over the last three and a half years. They have supported Lonely Planet’s ongoing migration from a traditional book publisher to a multi-platform brand.
Of the initial decision to purchase LP, BBC News reported that “The purchase fits in with BBC plans to grow online revenues and expand operations in America and Australia.”
After the initial acquisition, the LP brand saw a fall in revenue, reporting a loss of £3.2m loss in March 2009. Since then, though, its digital (non-print) revenues — which include 140 applications and 8.5 million unique visitors to lonelyplanet.com — have risen by 37% in the year ending March 2010. LP’s print magazine, launched in 2008, has seen a 33.4% year-on-year increase in the UK and Ireland.
Little plug: whoever said print is dead?
[Image: Sev! / Flickr]