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Local Billionaire Buys Lonely Planet from BBC $77M

Local Billionaire Buys Lonely Planet from BBC $77M

Lonely Planet

U.S. billionaire Brad Kelley backed NC2 Media in a $78 million deal, placing the Cool Springs TN –based media company on the receiving end of BBC’s Lonely Planet.

Kelley was reported to possess a net worth of $1.9 billion as of March, 2013. The reclusive Franklin billionaire has agreed to fund the exchange for NC2 Media to receive Lonely Planet in the massive deal.

Kelley’s huge worth can be traced back to his past with Commonwealth Brands, a discount tobacco corporation which included known brands such as Bull Durham and USA Gold. After selling his tobacco company in 2001, the billionaire has become one of the nation’s biggest land owners and investors.

NC2 is led by Executive Director Daniel Houghton, who will also take over as Lonely Planet’s Chief Operating Officer. Houghton views the exchange as a bright opportunity for the budding Cool Springs company.

“With this acquisition comes a global footprint, not only in the travel guide business, but also in magazine publishing and the digital space,” said Houghton. “We can build a business that, while remaining true to the things that made Lonely Planet great in the past, promises to make it even greater in the future.”

Lonely Planet, BBC Worldwide’s international travel brand is headquartered in Melbourne, and also has offices in London, Oakland, and Delhi. BBC bought 75 percent of Lonely Planet in 2007, and in 2011 bought all remaining shares. In total, BBC paid $196 million for the travel brand. NC2 Media bought the brand for roughly 70 percent of that.

Said BBC Worldwide Interim CEO Paul Dempsey: “We acquired Lonely Planet in 2007 when both our strategy and the market conditions were quite different. Since then, Lonely Planet has increased its presence in digital, magazine publishing and emerging markets whilst also growing its global market share, despite difficult economic conditions. However, we have also recognized that it no longer fits with our plans to put BBC brands at the heart of our business and have decided to sell the company to NC2 Media who are better placed to build and invest in the business. This deal begins a new chapter for Lonely Planet and signifies the end of one for BBC Worldwide.”

Lonely Planet has been in operation as a travel publishing business since 1973. After NC2 Media and BBC Worldwide complete the deal, Lonely Planet will continue to function as a global organization out of Melbourne.