BBC buys Lonely Planet for undisclosed price

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LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation, said it has bought Lonely Planet, the Australian travel publisher, for an undisclosed price.

Lonely Planet founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler will keep a 25 percent stake, the BBC said on Monday.

''Joining BBC Worldwide allows us to secure the long-term future of our company within a globally recognised media group,'' said the Wheelers, who founded the company in 1972.

Lonely Planet, headquartered in Melbourne, publishes about 500 travel guides, including cycling and walking titles. The company has more recently targeted a mature travelling audience, after focusing on campers and backpackers for decades.

''The association will strengthen Lonely Planet's visibility and growth potential, particularly in the digital arena, as well as providing their users access to the wide range of BBC content which connects with their interests,'' said Etienne de Villiers, non-executive chairman of BBC Worldwide.

REUTERS SR BD1550

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