21st Century Fox and The National Geographic Society are expanding their 18-year partnership to include National Geographic magazine and other publishing, travel and licensing assets in a deal valued at US$725 million.
Through the transaction, the Society’s endowment will grow to almost $1 billion, and the expanded JV – titled National Geographic Partners – will see 21st Century Fox taking a 73% share while the Society gets a 27% stake, with a shared governance structure and equal representation on the board of directors.
The board chair will alternate each year, with Gary Knell - National Geographic Society president and CEO – serving as the first chairman. Meanwhile, the Society’s chief media officer Declan Moore is to serve as CEO of National Geographic Partners.
According to 21st Century Fox, the entity is to combine the National Geographic television channels with National Geographic magazines, National Geographic Studios, related digital and social media platforms, books, maps, children’s media, and ancillary activities including travel, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and e-commerce businesses.
The bolstered endowment will also allow the National Geographic Society to “basically double” investments in science, research and education programs. The organization intends to create a National Geographic Grosvenor Center for Education – dedicated to improving the geographic skills of high school students – and also form Centers of Excellence in Cartography, Journalism and Photography, which is to develop and fund innovations in exploration, mapping and story-telling.
The closing of the deal – which is subject to customary conditions – is expected to take place later this year.
“As media organizations work to meet the increasing demand for high-quality storytelling across multiple platforms, it’s clear that the opportunity to grow by more closely aligning our branded content and licensing assets is the right path,” said Gary Knell in a statement. “We now will have the scale and reach to continue to fulfill our mission long into the future. The Society’s work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact.”