Vice Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday to facilitate a sale of the company and safeguard its future, according to court documents and a statement from the struggling media group.
A group of Vice lenders is set to purchase the embattled company’s assets for $225 million and take on significant liabilities, listed at $500 million to $1 billion, according to the filing in a New York federal court. That group, which includes Fortress Investment Group and Soros Fund Management, lent it $20 million to keep it afloat during the sale process, during which other lenders can make higher bids.
“This accelerated court-supervised sale process will strengthen the Company and position VICE for long-term growth,” co-CEOs Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala wrote in a statement. “We look forward to completing the sale process in the next two to three months and charting a healthy and successful next chapter at VICE.”
Vice Media says it intends to keep paying its remaining employees and vendors throughout the process, and to keep top management in place.
The company had tried without success to find a buyer willing to pay its asking price of more than $1 billion. Even that was a fraction of what investors once believed it was worth.
Investors valued the company, founded in 1994 as a Montreal-based punk magazine, at $5.7 billion in 2017. Vice earlier had attracted big-name backers, including 21st Century Fox and Disney. The latter invested a total of $400 million in the company but wrote it off as a loss in 2019.
Last month the company announced layoffs across its global newsroom and shuttered its international journalism arm, Vice World News. It also canceled its weekly broadcast program, “Vice News Tonight,” which debuted in 2016 and passed 1,000 episodes in March.
The company oversees a variety of brands, including the women’s lifestyle site Refinery29, which it acquired in 2019 for $400 million. It also owns British fashion magazine i-D and in-house creative agency Virtue, among others.
Vice chief executive Nancy Dubuc exited the company in February after five years at the helm, a post she took on during a tumultuous time for the newsroom.