Lonely Planet sold by BBC to NC2 Media

By Andrew Hudson Published: March 19, 2013 Updated: January 31, 2017

By Andrew Hudson Published: March 19, 2013 Updated: January 31, 2017

The world’s largest travel book publisher — Lonely Planet — has been sold by BBC Worldwide at a loss to Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley’s company NC2 Media.

“[Lonely Planet] no longer fits with our plans to put BBC brands at the heart of our business and [we] have decided to sell the company to NC2 Media who are better placed to build and invest in the business.”
Paul Dempsey, Interim CEO of BBC Worldwide

“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 technology”
Daniel Houghton, executive director of NC2 Media

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet was founded in 1972 by husband-and-wife team Tony and Maureen Wheeler. I was a fan of their second book, South-East Asia on a Shoestring, which inspired me to start PhotoSecrets, as a Lonely Planet-type series for photographers.

Lonely Planet in 2013:

  • 120 million books across 11 different languages
  • 120 million unique website visitors every year
  • 11 million downloads of apps

BBC Worldwide

In 2007, BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Company) bought 75% of the company. In 2011, BBC acquired full ownership for a total cost of £130.27 million ($196.81 million). Selling two years later for £51.5 million ($77.8 million), that is a huge loss for the BBC of £78.77 million ($119.01) — over 60%.

“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. … [BBC] Worldwide would not make this sort of acquisition again.”
Diane Coyle, BBC Trust

Brad Kelly and NC2 Media

“Based in Nashville, Tennessee, NC2’s primary shareholder is Brad Kelley, an American who made his fortune in tobacco and is listed on the Forbes 400 list of the world’s richest people. Now a rancher, he is among the top landowners in the U.S. and is a board member of Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby.”
Huffington Post

About Brad Kelly:

  • Born 1956 in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Began buying property at age 17
  • Founded Commonwealth Brands, a cigarette company, in 1991
  • Sold Commonwealth Brands in 2001 to Houchens Industries for $1 billion.
  • Estimated net worth is $1.9 billion (2012)
  • Fourth largest landowner in the U.S.
  • Active conservationist
  • Lives in Wyoming and Tennessee
  • Married with three children

Source: Wikipedia

“NC2 Media is a US based media company primarily engaged in the creation, acquisition, and distribution of quality content and the development of the technologies to make that possible.”
NC2 Media, March 19, 2013


Sources: Fox News via Associated Press, Deadline London, Huffington Post, Guardian UK, Wikipedia. Photo by Angelo Juan Ramos on Flickr and Lonely Planet.

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