This email, from co-founder Maureen Wheeler, was circulated to all staff at iconic travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet today:

From: Maureen Wheeler
Sent: Thursday, 3 May 2007 7:58 AM
To: Everyone at LP – Global
Subject: FW: The Age Misinformation

You may have seen the article on page 4 of The Age by Mark Hamilton.  (correction: Mark Hawthorne.)

This is a wonderful example of “go fish” journalism, Hamilton has obviously heard something is afoot and is fishing for a story. Apart from naming the wrong chairman his claim that our publishing is on the wane is absolutely wrong, publishing continues to grow and is sustaining every other part of our business.

However I’m sure there are some of you who have begun to wonder what all the meetings are about and why the many suited visitors.

Tony and I decided almost 18 months ago that in order for LP to reach its full potential in the online/digital world we needed more investment. We could go to the bank and borrow several millions or we could find an investor who would become a shareholder and in that way be as committed to LP’s future as we are. Judy, Tony and I spoke to many people around the world, we were looking for someone with real expertise and experience in this area.

While we had many nice lunches and dinners we didn’t find anyone who was exactly what we were looking for, but in the course of the search, the word got out that LP was interested in partnering with another group and many different people have approached us. Our response has been to talk to almost everyone to see what they have to offer, but we have made no deals and Tony and I have no intention of selling out of LP.

We are unable to talk to you about the people we are talking to because due to their corporate structures we have to sign confidentiality agreements, we also ask for confidentiality as we don’t want the sort of article that appeared this morning coming up every time we meet with anyone.

However as soon as there is something to tell you, we will. Those of you who remember LP from way back may recall the controversy when John Singleton became a shareholder due to our original partner leaving, I called a meeting and discussed it with you and asked for feedback, before the deal was done, there were less than 100 of you then of course. When we had cash flow problems Tony and I visited each department and explained why we had to cut back and what we had to do to sort it, in 2001 Tony flew to the States and I stayed here and we again called a meeting and explained exactly what our problems were and how we planned to fix it and afterwards we held meetings every day with individuals and small groups to make sure that everyone know what was happening and what we intended to do.

If we succeed in finding the ideal partner for LP we will follow tradition, you won’t find out about it from a newspaper, I promise.


Disclosure: Crikey co-owner Diana Gribble is a non executive director of Lonely Planet publications.

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