Vice Media, a worldwide news publisher, and television firm previously valued at nearly $6 billion, is allegedly on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.
The organization, whose assets include Vice News, Motherboard, Refinery29, and Vice TV, has been in discussions with at least five firms to sell itself to avoid bankruptcy, as reported by the New York Times.
Vice Media was once valued at $5.7 billion
At its peak in 2017, Vice was valued at $5.7 billion, attracting attention from media powerhouses such as Rupert Murdoch, WPP, and Disney due to its appeal to young audiences.
The company has been trying to sell itself for approximately $1.5 billion.
Vice Media canceled its ‘Vice News Tonight’ show
A week ago, Vice – which has been evaluating its future since its plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) fell through two years ago – declared the cancellation of its popular Vice News Tonight as part of a restructuring that could lead to over 100 employees being laid off.
In February, Fortress Investment Group, the firm’s debt holder, provided a $30 million funding line, allowing Vice to pay outstanding bills to suppliers.
CEO Nancy Dubuc resigned suddenly in February
In the same month, Nancy Dubuc, who succeeded controversial co-founder Shane Smith as CEO in 2018, announced her unexpected departure.
If a sale cannot be reached – potential buyers are reportedly looking for a deal below $1 billion – a bankruptcy process would enable Vice to continue operating as usual while an auction is conducted.
Vice Media engaged in ‘strategic alternatives and planning’
In a statement, Vice Media Group said, “Vice Media Group has been engaged in a comprehensive evaluation of strategic alternatives and planning. The company, its board, and stakeholders continue to be focused on finding the best pathway for the company.”
Vice, which started as a punk magazine in Montreal nearly 30 years ago, broadened its reach into digital media and television, forming partnerships with firms such as Sky and HBO.
Vice Media attracted a very youthful audience
The prospect of successfully engaging a global youth audience attracted significant investment from companies like Disney, which considered acquiring Vice for over $3 billion in 2015.
However, Disney wrote off its $400 million investment in Vice as worthless in 2019.
Vice threatened traditional and established media companies
Vice was part of a new wave of rapidly growing digital media companies like BuzzFeed that once threatened traditional media companies with their ability to attract millennial audiences.
Last week, BuzzFeed, which has a market value of $75 million following a disastrous IPO last year, announced the closure of the remainder of its once-celebrated BuzzFeed News operation and the laying off of 180 employees throughout the rest of the company.