The media company Vice will reportedly soon file for bankruptcy.
Two sources familiar with the situation told the New York Times that Vice has been looking for a buyer to potentially stave off filing for bankruptcy and that no such buyer has materialized yet. Per the report:
The company has been looking for a buyer, and still might find one, to avoid declaring bankruptcy. More than five companies have expressed interest in acquiring Vice, according to a person briefed on the discussions. The chances of that, however, are growing increasingly slim, said one of the people with knowledge of the potential bankruptcy.
A bankruptcy filing would be a bleak coda to the tumultuous story of Vice, a new-media interloper that sought to supplant the media establishment before persuading it to invest hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2017, after a funding round from the private-equity firm TPG, Vice was worth $5.7 billion. But today, by most accounts, it’s worth a tiny fraction of that.
In the event of a bankruptcy, Vice’s largest debtholder, Fortress Investment Group, could end up controlling the company, said one of the people. Vice would continue operating normally and run an auction to sell the company over a 45-day period, with Fortress in pole position as the most likely acquirer.
Fortress would be the first company to be paid out in a sale since it has senior debt. The source confirmed that companies like Disney and Fox, both of which invested in Vice, will not be seeing a return.
In a statement on Monday, Vice said that the company has been “engaged in a comprehensive evaluation of strategic alternatives and planning.”
“The company, its board and stakeholders continue to be focused on finding the best path for the company,” it said.
As even the mainstream media has chronicled, Vice has faced a tumultuous set of challenges over the years as it blossomed from a basic punk magazine into a global news outlet with deals at HBO and its own film studio. In 2017, for instance, the company suspended its head of documentaries amid allegations of sexual harassment during the #MeToo heyday.