BBC Worldwide has agreed a £121m deal to sell all non-BBC branded magazines and publishing rights to BBC-branded titles to private equity firm Exponent; as well as selling stakes in a number of magazine-related companies.
11 titles have been bought outright by Exponent, including the Radio Times, Olive, and Gardens Illustrated.
A series of 10- and 5-year licences have been granted to Exponent which give it publishing rights across 22 titles. BBC Worldwide maintains ownership of these titles however. Titles with 10-year licences agreed include Gardeners’ World and BBC Wildlife. 5-year licences has been agreed across four other titles – Top Gear, Lonely Planet, Good Food and Easy Cook.
Exponent is expected to create a new company to which the majority of BBC Magazines staff and operations will transfer on completion of the deal. The deal is dependant on the approval of the Office for Fair Trading which should be announced in the autumn.
Exponent will also acquire full control of publisher Origin, the BBC currently holds a minority stake in the company. As well as this Exponent will acquire the BBC stakes in Dovetail, a joint venture with Dennis Publishing, and Frontline.
To ensure future editorial content meets the BBC’s editorial guidelines a small in-house company, the Magazine Unit, will be created by BBC Worldwide to work with Exponent.