Wheelers exit Lonely Planet as BBC assumes full control

Wheelers exit Lonely Planet as BBC assumes full control

Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler have ended their ties with Lonely Planet, the guidebook publisher they founded in 1973. BBC Worldwide acquired 75% of the publisher in 2007 for £89m, and has now paid a further £42m for the remaining shares.

The move sees the Wheelers step out of the business they have been associated with for close to 40 years. They will no longer be on the board of the company or be involved in any day-to-day sense with its running. The Wheelers said: "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."

Lonely Planet head of communications Tom Hall said: "You will still see and hear of Tony and Maureen in connection with Lonely Planet but they won't have that formal involvement."

The Wheelers exercised a "put option" granted at the time of the original sale, which meant that they could sell their shares to BBCW. Lonely Planet chairman and BBC Worldwide global brands m.d. Marcus Arthur 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."