National Geographic’s Publications Shift to For-Profit as Fox Partnership Expands

New venture will be called National Geographic Partners

21st Century Fox, which has had a joint venture with National Geographic's TV channels for almost two decades, is expanding that partnership to all of National Geographic Society's media properties.

Going forward, Fox will also have a stake in National Geographic's magazines, books, TV production studio, children's media and maps. The company has been jointly operating the National Geographic U.S. and international channels for 18 years.

The new joint venture will be called National Geographic Partners. Fox will own 73 percent of it, while National Geographic Society will own 27 percent. (While the partnership will be for-profit, the National Geographic Society will remain nonprofit.)

The board will be made up of an equal number of Fox and National Geographic Society members. Its chairman will alternate annually. Gary Knell, who was Nat Geo Society president and CEO, will serve as the first chairman. Declan Moore, CMO for Nat Geo Society, has been named CEO.

"This expanded partnership, bringing together all of the media and consumer activities under the National Geographic umbrella, one of the most treasured names in the world, creates vast opportunities and enables this business to be even more successful in a digital environment," 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch said in a statement.

"As media organizations work to meet the increasing demand for high quality storytelling across multiple platforms, it's clear that the opportunity to grow by more closely aligning our branded content and licensing assets is the right path. We now will have the scale and reach to continue to fulfill our mission long into the future," said Knell in a statement.

Fox will contribute $725 million in a mix of cash and equity, meaning that "the society's endowment will significantly increase to nearly $1 billion," the companies said in the release.

The transaction is expected to close later this year.