BBC investigates €90m loss in 'Lonely Planet' sell-off
THE BBC's overseer is investigating why the company is selling the 'Lonely Planet' travel guide publishing division at a loss of almost €90m to a US billionaire.
BBC Worldwide, the public broadcaster's commercial arm, said it would sell 'Lonely Planet' to Tennessee-based NC2 Media for £51.5m (€59.9m) after a year of reviewing strategic options for the publisher.
The BBC paid £130.2m for it over two investments in 2007 and 2011. NC2 Media, whose primary shareholder is billionaire Brad Kelley, will take over 'Lonely Planet' on March 31.
BBC Trust, the London-based broadcaster's governing body, called the disposal a "significant financial loss" and ordered a review of the investment, which in 2007 drew criticism over whether the publicly funded broadcaster should be spending money on acquiring a private book publisher.
"The trust's strategy for Worldwide now is to focus on BBC programme content, and Worldwide would not make this sort of acquisition again," Diane Coyle, the trust's vice-chairman, said in a statement. (Bloomberg)