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Time Out founder sells 50% stake

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The owner of travel guide Time Out has sold his 50% stake in the firm

The founder of Time Out magazine has sold a 50% stake to private equity to help fund online and digital expansion.

Tony Elliott, who launched the magazine and travel guide 42 years ago, struck a deal with Oakley Capital Investments, said to value Time Out at around £20 million.

The stake sale will allow Time Out to step up its move into online guides.

Mr Elliott – who has been looking for an investor for seven years – said he hoped the deal would help begin “a hugely successful worldwide digital journey”.

He is thought to be using some of the cash from the sale to pay down debts, with the remainder going into expansion projects such as a new series of “what’s on” online-only guides to cities including Paris, Rome and Berlin.

Oakley Capital, which is headed by entrepreneur Peter Dubens, said its acquisition would provide “financial and strategic” support for Time Out.

Mr Dubens said: “It is very rare to be able to help with such a renowned, iconic brand as Time Out. We believe that we will help this brand both in its traditional media and the continued transition to digital over the coming years.”

Time Out published weekly cultural and entertainment guides in 24 countries and has an audience of more than 17 million a year worldwide. Its weekly magazine has 36 versions globally, with another 22 travel magazines and guides to around 50 cities, translated into 10 languages.

The group has been appointed official publisher of travel guides for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Time Out has been seeking to develop its online offering and said it has 7.5 million unique users each month – up 38% year-on-year – of which over 2 million are in London.

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