NatGeo Spins Off Media In $725 Million Deal

The National Geographic Society (NGS) has split off its media interests into a for-profit entity in an estimated $725 million deal with 21st Century Fox. NGS, along with its museum, science, exploration and educational programs, will maintain nonprofit status, according to MJ Jacobsen, a spokesperson for NGS.

The new for-profit venture, which will operate as National Geographic Partners, will function separately from NGS. In the deal to be finalized later this year, National Geographic Partners will combine television channels, magazines, books, maps and other media. NGS will remain in its Washington, D.C., headquarters,  Jacobsen said via an email.

The deal is expected to increase NGS’ endowment from about $250 million to an estimated $1 billion, according to Jacobsen. “We will have much greater resources for our grant-making programs that support scientists and explorers with their work worldwide thanks to the transaction,” Jacobsen said.

NGS will own 27 percent of the new entity with 21st Century Fox owning the remaining 73 percent. The two parties will have equal representation on the board of directors, with the board chair alternating annually, according to the organizations. Gary Knell, NGS president and CEO, will serve as the board’s first chair. Declan Moore, NGS’ chief media officer, was appointed CEO of National Geographic Partners.

“The National Geographic Society Board of Trustees truly believes that this expanded partnership with 21st Century Fox well positions our institution for today and for tomorrow in a way that ensures a sustainable future, while protecting and building upon the legacy of our founders,” John Fahey, Jr., chairman of NGS’ board said via a statement.

NGS intends to create the National Geographic Grosvenor Center for Education to develop high school students’ geography skills, as well as Centers for Excellence in cartography, journalism and photography. The timeframe and cost associated with the projects are still in progress, Jacobsen said, reiterating that the transaction is not expected to close until later in the year.