A deal worth £121 million has finally been struck between BBC Worldwide and Exponent Private Equity for titles currently published by BBC Magazines.
Under the terms of the agreement, Exponent will acquire, in full, Radio Times and a number of magazines less closely aligned to the BBC, as well as the rights to publish BBC-branded titles under licensing and contract arrangements.
In addition, Exponent will also acquire BBC Magazines' 50 per cent stake in Dovetail, its subscriptions fulfilment company and its share of distribution business, Frontline. The firm will also pick up specialist publisher Origin Publishing, in which BBC Magazines currently holds a minority stake.
At the same time, BBC Worldwide has agreed the sale of a 50 per cent shareholding in Worldwide Media, a publishing joint venture in India, to fellow shareholder Bennett, Coleman & Co, owner of The Times of India.
The transactions deliver a total of £121 million to BBC Worldwide, with the majority of the proceeds going back to the BBC.
"BBC Magazines is a world class magazines business, with an incredible depth of talent across editorial, publishing, marketing and commercial," said John Smith, CEO of BBC Worldwide. "The deal announced today offers the best prospects for the magazines business to continue on this path of success, while BBC Worldwide pursues a strategy increasingly focused on international video and digital services.
"The consumer magazines market faces a number of challenges, and this transaction brings a focus and degree of investment that BBC Worldwide alone is unable to provide."
Under the terms of the deal, the titles and brands currently published by BBC Magazines will fall into one of three categories:
Sale - Radio Times and a number of magazines less closely aligned to the BBC are being sold outright to Exponent;
Licence - BBC and BBC programme branded titles will be licensed (including Gardeners' World and BBC Wildlife), with BBC Worldwide not retaining ownership but keeping a strong continuing editorial interest under licensing agreements:
Contract - titles relating to key BBC Worldwide brands (Top Gear, Good Food and Lonely Planet) will be retained by BBC Worldwide and published by Exponent under contract publishing arrangements.