BBC books £80m loss on travel guides

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, is selling travel guide business Lonely Planet for £50 million to US company NC2 Media at a loss of £80 million (€99m). The BBC acquired 75 per cent of Lonely Planet in 2007 for £88.1 million and the remaining 25 per cent in 2011 for £42.17 million, for a total consideration of £130.2 million.

The BBC was widely criticised form making the buy, in 2009, a Culture Media and Sport Select Committee said the purchase expanded an area “where the BBC has no, or very limited existing interests”.

The Trust has ordered the BBC Executive board to review “lessons learnt”.

The Lonely Planet suffered from the prolonged global recession and the Australian dollar appreciating to 58 per cent against the UK pound – 80 per cent of Lonely Planet’s revenues are generated from foreign currency.

The sale follows the corporation’s commercial review last year which set out the company’s strategy to focus on BBC brands and promote the best of its output globally.

Diane Coyle, Trust vice chairman and chair of the Strategic Approvals Committee, said: “The Trust’s strategy for Worldwide now is to focus on BBC programme content, and Worldwide would not make this sort of acquisition again.”

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