After a rollercoaster journey that saw Vice Media capture the attention of major investors like Disney and Fox before experiencing a dramatic decline, the brash digital-media disruptor is reportedly gearing up to file for bankruptcy. According to sources familiar with the matter, the filing could happen in the coming weeks if Vice fails to secure a buyer. While several companies have shown interest in acquiring Vice, the likelihood of a successful deal is diminishing. In the event of bankruptcy, Fortress Investment Group, Vice's largest debtholder, could potentially take control of the company. Vice would continue operating normally and initiate an auction process to sell the company over a 45-day period, with Fortress being the frontrunner as the most probable buyer.
Vice, once valued at $5.7 billion after a funding round from TPG in 2017, has experienced a significant decline in value since then. The media company began as a punk magazine in Montreal and later evolved into a global media powerhouse, encompassing various ventures such as a movie studio, an ad agency, and an HBO show. Disney, one of Vice's investors, explored acquiring the company for over $3 billion in 2015, but the deal never materialized. Vice has struggled to turn a profit, continuously facing financial losses and laying off employees.
Amid its search for a buyer, Vice recently announced the closure of Vice World News, a global reporting initiative known for its bold coverage of world conflicts and human rights abuses. This move disappointed employees who saw the division's journalism as a reflection of Vice's roots in gonzo reporting. The company has also witnessed leadership changes, with former CEO Nancy Dubuc and global president of news and entertainment, Jesse Angelo, both departing from their positions.
While Vice maintains that it is evaluating strategic alternatives and planning for the best path forward, the prospect of bankruptcy marks a challenging chapter in its history as it grapples with finding stability and profitability in an evolving media landscape.