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Vice Media files for bankruptcy, prepares asset sale

Vice Media Group, the holding firm that operates the Vice and Motherboard, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Monday morning as it prepares to sell off the majority of its assets to a group of its creditors.

The bankruptcy filing was announced in a press release that pledged Vice was “operating as usual” and continues to “remain focused on producing and delivering premium content and services across all its businesses.”

The creditors who have agreed to acquire Vice Media assets include Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital in a deal valued around $225 million. The bankruptcy filing allows Vice to solicit higher offers from other creditors, investors or companies, though it isn’t clear if anyone has expressed interest.

Vice said its international media assets are not part of the Chapter 11 filing, nor is its television channel, Vice TV, which is operated as a joint venture with A+E Networks.

“Vice serves a huge global audience with a unique brand of news, entertainment and lifestyle content,” Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, the co-CEOs of Vice Media, said in a joint statement on Monday. “This accelerated court-supervised sale process will strengthen the Company and position Vice for long-term growth, thereby safeguarding the kind of authentic journalism and content creation that makes Vice such a trusted brand for young people and such a valued partner to brands, agencies and platforms.”

Vice found itself on a short list of Millennial-focused media darlings that drew sizable cash investments about a decade ago, which helped fund its unique brand of journalism aimed at young and underserved audiences.

Like other brands, Vice has grappled with earning a return on that investment for its creditors, weighed down in part by the global health pandemic of three years ago coupled with a downturn in the domestic ad market and a shift away from written and long-form video content toward other forms of media.

Last month, Vice said it was laying off around 100 workers and shutting down parts of its news division as part of a broad restructuring of its business. The company’s flagship news program, “Vice News Tonight,” was shut down as part of the move.

The layoffs continued a trend of job losses at other media outlets, both traditional and startup, since the start of the year. Other companies that have let go of workers in the media and entertainment space include NPR, Gannet Company, the Walt Disney Company, Paramount Global, the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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