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Fox, Nat Geo in new JV

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has paid US$725m to expand its partnership with National Geographic Society and create a new joint venture.

Gary Knell

Gary Knell

National Geographic Partners will combine the previously non-profit National Geographic magazines, National Geographic Studios, books, maps and children’s media ancillary activities with the National Geographic television channels, which Fox has owned and operated for the past 18 years.

Fox will have a 73% stake in the new entity, with the remaining 27% owned by The National Geographic Society. The two previously held equal 50/50 stakes in the business. There will be a shared governance structure and equal representation on the board of directors, Fox said.

Gary Knell, National Geographic Society president and CEO, becomes the board’s first chairman, while Declan Moore, a 20-year veteran of the society currently serving as chief media officer, has been appointed CEO.

Fox said the deal will “create greater opportunities” to pursue National Geographic’s mission of increasing knowledge through science, exploration and research.

“The value generated by this transaction, including the consistent and attractive revenue stream that National Geographic Partners will deliver, ensures we will have greater resources for this work,” said Knell.

James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, added: “This expanded partnership, bringing together all of the media and consumer activities under the National Geographic umbrella, one of the most treasured names in the world, creates vast opportunities and enables this business to be even more successful in a digital environment.”

The transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to close later this year.

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