|Troubled BBC offloads soured investment Lonely Planet
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK state-owned broadcaster BBC, says it has agreed to sell its travel guide business, Lonely Planet, for US$77.8 million to U.S.-based NC2 Media, AP reports.
Its reputation shredded by a sex abuse scandal involving a celebrated presenter, the BBC said the decision follows a review that laid out a strategy to focus on BBC brands. NC2 Media, based in Nashville, Tennessee, has primarily focused on the distribution and development of digital content.
But when the BBC acquired the business, it paid £130.2 million.
The BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body, has ordered a review into the huge loss, AFP reported.
"Although this did not prove to be a good commercial investment, Worldwide is a very successful business, and at the time of purchase there was a credible rationale for this deal,'' said the Trust's vice-chairwoman Diane Coyle.
"Given the significant financial loss to Worldwide, however, we have asked the BBC Executive to commission a review of lessons learned and report to the Trust with its findings.''
Lonely Planet has printed 120 million books in 11 different languages. However, the company's performance has been hit by the consolidation of the publishing industry and the economic crisis, which hurt travel.
Founded in 1973 by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, Lonely Planet employs 400 people and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. The strength of Australia's currency has also hurt the company.