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BBC Buys Lonely Planet

lplogoWe at BootsnAll were surprised to read the news today that guidebook giant Lonely Planet has been purchased by BBC Worldwide. We’re fans of the LP books, and we think extremely highly of LP founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler. It was a particular thrill when Tony Wheeler visited the BootsnAll offices this past summer. One of the things that has always been so appealing about the Lonely Planet “family” is their independent streak – so you can imagine how the sale of the company would be a little surprising to us.

BBC apparently is looking to increase their visibility and “expand operations” in America and Australia, so purchasing Lonely Planet – based in Australia and wildly popular in the United States – fits right into that plan. The Wheelers and John Singleton, who collectively owned the company, will retain a 25% share of the new entity.

The deal was first reported to be for an “undisclosed sum,” but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is now saying the sale price was $250 million. While there’s no mention on the LP site about the deal, here is a link to an mp3 recording of Tony Wheeler explaining the decision to sell – and he actually uses the phrase “selling out.” You can read more here.

Of course, it remains to be seen if there will be any changes made to the way LP operates. As such a force to be reckoned with in the guidebook world, any changes will inevitably be noticed. We’ll keep an eye out, that’s for sure.