Home » Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley reportedly buying travel publisher Lonely Planet

Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley reportedly buying travel publisher Lonely Planet

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 4, 2013) — Popular travel publisher and website Lonely Planet is reportedly about to be sold to Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley, operator of the historic Calumet Farm in Lexington.

lonely-planetSkift.com, a New York City-based travel industry website, reported today that a deal between Kelley and BBC Worldwide, which owns Lonely Planet, is in the final stages of negotiations, and an announcement could be made next week.

Kelley, who rarely makes public appearances of gives interviews, will buy a majority controlling stake in the travel publisher and BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of BBC, will retain a small-but-sizable stake, Skift reported.

The most successful travel publisher, Lonely Planet has printed more than 100 million travel books and has become a global brand.

Click here to read Skift’s report.

LonelyPlanet.com receives over 12 million unique visitors to its website each month with the “Top U.S. Destinations” list among its most read articles each year. It also has nearly 2 million fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

A native of Franklin, Ky., Kelley, 55, was the founder of the Commonwealth Brands tobacco company, which he sold for $1 billion in 2001. He is one of the largest landowners and conservationists in the U.S., owning more square feet than the state of Rhode Island.

Kelley is the fourth-largest private landowner by acres in the U.S., just behind Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, media mogul Ted Turner and the Emmerson family, the Wall Street Journal reported in October.

He owns Hurricane Hall, a breeding farm in Lexington, and Bluegrass Hall, the racing arm of the farm.