Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

BBC explores ‘strategic options’ for Lonely Planet series

A satellite transmission dish is seen near BBC Television Centre at White City in London February 18, 2013.


The BBC's commercial arm said on Tuesday it was examining strategic options for the Lonely Planet travel guides, following a report of a potential sale to an American billionaire.

U.S.-based travel site said in an unsourced post that BBC Worldwide was in negotiations with Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley over a sale of the book series, and that a deal could be announced next week.

"We have been exploring strategic options for Lonely Planet for some time now but no deal has been done and we are not going to comment on speculation about its future," a spokesman for BBC Worldwide told Reuters on Tuesday.

Story continues below advertisement

Toted by travellers across the globe, the Lonely Planet series has printed over 100 million books in nine languages, mapping out tourist trails from Austria to Antarctica.

The BBC initially bought a majority stake in Lonely Planet for £88.1-million ($132.77-million U.S.) in 2007, before becoming the sole shareholder of the series for a further 42.1 million pounds in 2011.

The BBC's acquisition drew criticism for appearing to stray from the corporation's public services remit of the broadcaster, which is publicly funded through a licence tax.

Reclusive billionaire Kelley, who made his fortune selling discount cigarettes in the 1990s, is one of the biggest landowners in the United States and breeds rare and exotic animals as a hobby, the Wall Street Journal reported in October.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at