Vice Media to be acquired by Fortress-led lender group for $350m | Media News

Vice Media filed for bankruptcy protection last month in a move that capped years of financial difficulties.

Online publisher Vice Media will be sold to a consortium led by Fortress Investment Group after the bankruptcy court approved its $350m bid on Friday.

The investor group, which includes Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital, bumped up its offer to $350m for all of Vice’s assets and some liabilities, from its initial bid of $225m. The offer is in the form of a credit bid.

Popular with the millennial audience through its websites Vice and Motherboard, Vice Media filed for bankruptcy protection last month in a move that capped years of financial difficulties, top-executive departures and the company’s prior efforts to sell itself.

“We believe [this] represents the best path forward for Vice,” the media company’s co-chief executive officers, Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, said in a statement.

Vice’s lawyer Fred Sosnick said in court the sale would put the company “on a secure footing for the future”. Sosnick said 10 proposals were received for the acquisition of the whole company and five for certain parts of the business.

When Vice filed for bankruptcy in May, it owed $474.6m to the Fortress-led lender group.  Vice borrowed an additional $10m from those lenders during its bankruptcy proceedings.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing was announced weeks after the company announced it would cancel its flagship Vice News Tonight programme and lay off employees. The layoffs were expected to affect more than 100 employees in the 1,500-person workforce, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company also said it would end its Vice World News brand, making Vice News its only brand worldwide.

Privately held Vice was valued at $5.7bn at its peak in 2017. Its investors include James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, TPG, Technology Crossover Ventures and Antenna Group.

Internet media publications have lately struggled to grow their ad-dependent revenue as Big Tech platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Alphabet’s Google attracted the bulk of digital advertising spends.

Meanwhile, the advertisement market had been suppressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, further challenging the business at online publishers.

Vice’s filing came in the midlet of a wave of media layoffs and closures – including job cuts at the Gannett newspaper-publishing chain, National Public Radio and The Washington Post. In April, BuzzFeed Inc announced that its Pulitzer Prize-winning digital media outlet BuzzFeed News was being shut down as part of a cost-cutting drive by its corporate parent.

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