BBC near sale of Lonely Planet

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The Independent Online

Gideon Spanier

The BBC's commercial arm, Worldwide, is poised to sell a majority stake in its travel guides business Lonely Planet, with the American travel website Skift claiming the buyer is the Kentucky cigarette billionaire Brad Kelley.

Reports have suggested Lonely Planet might be worth only £85m, as online rivals have challenged its position. A BBC Worldwide spokesman said: "We have been exploring strategic options for Lonely Planet for some time, but no deal has been done, and we are not going to comment on speculation."

Critics attacked the Beeb's £130m Lonely Planet buy, arguing that it was outside its public service broadcasting remit.