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Fox takes 73% in Nat Geo JV

In a $725 million (649m) deal, 21st Century Fox has taken a majority control of the National Geographic brand through a new joint venture that will combine National Geographic Channels with its other digital, media and publishing, travel and licensing assets.

The new entity will be owned 73 per cent by 21st Century Fox and 27 per cent by The National Geographic Society, with a shared governance structure and equal representation on the board of directors.  As a result, the Society’s endowment will significantly increase, to nearly $1 billion.

The new expanded JV will operate as National Geographic Partners, which brings together the National Geographic TV channels with National Geographic’s other media and consumer-oriented assets. This includes National Geographic magazines, National Geographic Studios, related digital and social media platforms, books, maps, children’s media and ancillary activities.

Declan Moore, a 20-year veteran of The National Geographic Society who is currently serving as chief media officer, has been appointed CEO of National Geographic Partners.

“The expansion of our nearly two decade partnership with 21st Century Fox is another milestone for The National Geographic Society, which for much of its 127 years has sponsored groundbreaking scientists and explorers and shared the knowledge and wonder with the world, using the best and most creative media platforms of each era,” said Gary Knell, National Geographic Society’s president and CEO. “The value generated by this transaction, including the consistent and attractive revenue stream that National Geographic Partners will deliver, ensures that we will have greater resources for this work, which includes our grant making programs that support scientists and explorers around the world.”

James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, said: “We are privileged to have the opportunity to expand our partnership to continue to bring to audiences around the world, ‘The world and all that is in it,’ as National Geographic Society’s second president Alexander Graham Bell stated more than a century ago. We believe in the Society’s mission of bringing the world to audiences through science, education and exploration.”

The additional resources will enable The National Geographic Society to essentially double its investment in an array of science, research and education programs. Plans include the creation of the National Geographic Grosvenor Center for Education and the establishment of Centers of Excellence in Cartography, Journalism and Photography, which will develop and fund innovations in exploration, mapping and story-telling. The National Geographic Museum, thought leader forums, and related programs will remain under the Society’s purview, all with the support of a focused philanthropic development team.

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