Fortress Investment Group set to take control of Vice Media

Vice Media Group is set to be acquired for US$225m by Fortress Investment Group, the company’s largest creditor.

The deal, which comes a month after Vice filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York, will see Fortress, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital taking control of the company.

The trio’s bid is covered by their existing loans to the company and would see them acquiring almost all of Vice Media’s assets, as previously reported.

According to a legal filing at the US banruptcy court in Manhattan, the Fortress-led consortium offered the only “qualified” bid for the company. US firm GoDigital reportedly made a $300m offer but this was turned down.

A hearing to approve the sale is scheduled for later today, with the deal requiring the approval of the court’s bankruptcy judge.

The news looks set to bring an end to the ongoing turmoil surrounding Vice, which is home to UK-based Gangs Of London producer Pulse Films, as well as the Vice TV network, the Vice Studios film & TV unit, a distribution arm, Refinery29, agency Carrot Creative and fashion title i-D.

It had been valued at $5.7bn in 2017 and counted Disney, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and Antenna Group among its investors.

However, the firm, which started life as the alternative-punk Vice magazine in the 1990s and grew into a major media brand over the decades, has suffered from advertising shifts and declining audiences.

Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala were appointed co-CEO’s at Vice after Nancy Dubuc stepped down in February, with her arrival in 2018 following a flurry of allegations against Vice founder Shane Smith.

Dubuc’s departure was preceded by the exit of Kate Ward, who had been president of Vice’s global studios operation since 2019 and led Pulse Films since its founders’ left last year. Ward joined BBC Studios (BBCS) Productions as MD of its factual operations in September.

The firm has also been shifting its operations internationally, closing linear networks and its operations in France, as well as pushing into FAST news channels, as revealed by DTVE sister title TBI.

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