Elsewhere online
September 14, 2015

Little Sign of Fiscal Trouble in National Geographic's Books

The National Geographic Society, which last week sold its namesake, 127-year-old magazine and other media properties to Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, appears to be in robust fiscal health, according to its most recent financial disclosures, reports The Washington Post.

Announcing the sale Wednesday to society employees, Gary Knell, the nonprofit research and exploration organization's CEO, said it faced "enormous and real existential risks" unless it shed its media affiliates. Fox purchased a 73-percent stake in the properties for $725 million, with the nonprofit society remaining a minority partner.

In 2013 the organization's the revenue grew 16 percent to $500 million and net assets increased by 20 percent, to nearly $900 million. From 2010 to 2013, its media operations took in $42.4 million more than the organization paid out in grants, charitable projects, and staff compensation.

National Geographic officials said that while the media properties are still contributing to the organization's bottom line, the magazine is in decline and the recent revenue gains have been driven largely by investments. Doing the Fox deal now, they said, assures the society's long-term stability, making it less vulnerable to stock-market swings or the publication becoming a major drain on resources.