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Tipsheet

Vice Braces for Bankruptcy

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP, File

I wasn’t a big follower of Vice, but the media company did produce interesting content. From cultural events to going inside hot zones, Vice was there to nab some worthwhile interviews, both friend and foe of the United States. It wasn’t a conservative publication by any stretch of the imagination, but it had some fascinating series covering multiple human interest areas. Their early stuff that was apolitical and more like the Travel Channel was especially riveting.

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Yes, some of their printed material on Vice News that held a liberal bias was cringy, like when they flubbed the meaning of natural immunity during COVID or died on the hill for sex offender rights. The cool thing about Vice and its subsidiaries is that it was never a glass case of liberal nonsense, at least for me. If there was some mind-numbingly absurd article, there was usually other content that eschewed politics that one could enjoy. It’s a company that was once valued at nearly $6 billion, but now it is preparing itself for bankruptcy (via NYT): 

Vice, the brash digital-media disrupter that charmed giants like Disney and Fox into investing before a stunning crash-landing, is preparing to file for bankruptcy, according to two people with knowledge of its operations. 

The filing could come in the coming weeks, according to three people familiar with the matter who weren’t authorized to discuss the potential bankruptcy on the record. 

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.

Unlike Vice’s other investors, which have included Disney and Fox, Fortress holds senior debt, which means it gets paid out first in the event of a sale. Disney, which has already written down its investments, is not getting a return, the person said.

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Some might feel differently about the company, but I don’t hate Vice nearly as much as I do CNN or MNSBC.  

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