Vice Media filed for bankruptcy to reorganize its company today (May 15). A group of its lenders that have previously given money to the business will purchase Vice for $225 million, unless Vice can find a bidder willing to pay more, a company statement said. At its peak in 2017, Vice was worth $5.7 billion based on venture capital funding.
The sale will “strengthen the Company and position VICE for long-term growth,” Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, co-CEOs, said in a statement.
The bankruptcy and sale mark the end of a months-long search to sell the once-dominating digital media company. After failed plans to go public, Vice was looking to sell for between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, according to CNBC. It had reportedly been in talks with Greek broadcaster Antenna Group for months, but negotiations stalled. The group of lenders is taking on “significant liabilities” in the deal, the statement said. Once worth billions, Vice’s assets amount to between $500 million and $1 billion, according to the filing.
Vice’s sale for far less than it hoped is the latest news in the downturned media economy. Widespread layoffs in 2022 have rolled over to 2023, with some newsrooms closing altogether. Earlier this month, MTV News closed after 36 years. In April, Pulitzer Prize-winning BuzzFeed News shuttered.
Vice’s lenders include Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital. Vice’s biggest creditor listed in its filing is Fortress, to which it owes $475 million, including $30 million Fortress lended in February. Vice also owes $20.9 million to Thomas Benski and Marisa Clifford, who founded production company Pulse Films; $9.9 million to Wipro, a New Jersey-based software company; and $9.84 million to JP Morgan Chase. Vice has more than 30 creditors, according to the filing.
“We will have new ownership, a simplified capital structure and the ability to operate without the legacy liabilities that have been burdening our business,” the co-CEOs said. The sale will complete within two to three months. The group of lenders has provided $20 million to keep the company afloat during the sale process, according to the statement.
The bankruptcy and sale represent some of the first actions of the new CEOs. The company appointed Dixon and Lokhandwala following the former chief executive Nancy Dubuc’s resignation in February after five years at the helm. She didn’t disclose why she left in the memo she sent to employees. Dixon formerly worked as Vice’s chief financial officer and Lokhandwala as the chief strategy officer.