BBC Worldwide has paid AUD$67.2m (£42.1m) to acquire the 25 per cent of shares it does not already own of Lonely Planet.
Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler have exercise of an option allowing them to sell their remaining shares to the commercial wing of the BBC, which controversially took a controlling interest in their business in 2007.
The BBC’s purchase of Lonely Planet led commercial rivals of the corporation to criticise it for entering into territories not linked to its core public service remit. Lonely Planet magazine has since become one of the BBC’s best performing magazines.
Marcus Arthur, chairman of Lonely Planet and MD of BBC Worldwide Global Brands, said:
“The put option enabled us to benefit from the Wheelers’ experience over the last three and a half years.
‘They have supported Lonely Planet’s ongoing migration from a traditional book publisher to a multi-platform brand.
‘I would like to wish them the very best in the next phase of their lives.”
BBC Worldwide acquired 75 per cent of Lonely Planet on 1 October 2007 for £88.1m from the Wheelers, who founded the business in 1973.
Tony and Maureen Wheeler said jointly:
“The last three years have seen Lonely Planet embark on a journey of its own – giving its users and readers ever more choice and utility.
“We wish the business and the Lonely Planet community every success in the future.”