There are whispers Vice Media is in the doldrums after years of success as the internet’s very own “punk rock” news source.
Sources familiar with Vice say the company is gearing up to declare bankruptcy after almost 30 years in business, attracting massive investors including Disney along the way.
The bankruptcy filing could come in the next few weeks, according to three insiders who were not authorised to speak about it publicly to The Washington Post.
In the meantime, Vice has been trying to find a buyer in order to avoid going bankrupt, and more than five companies have shown interest in acquiring the company. However, the likelihood of a buyer stepping forward is rapidly dwindling, according to one of the sources.
The brash new-media upstart aimed to rock the boat of the established media landscape before convincing it to invest hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2017, following a funding round by private-equity firm TPG, Vice was worth an incredible $5.7 billion.
But six years later, its valuation is dwindling.
Should Vice file for bankruptcy, Fortress Investment Group, its largest debt holder, may end up taking control of the company, according to one source.
Unlike other investors in Vice, such as Disney and Fox, Fortress has senior debt, meaning it would be paid first if the company were sold. Consequently, Disney, which has already written off its investments, is not going to get any returns, according to one source.
“Vice Media Group 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,” Vice said in a statement on Monday.
Vice started in Montreal over 20 years ago before exploding into a global media enterprise with a film studio, an advertising agency, an HBO show, and bureaus in cities worldwide.
Disney reportedly considered buying the company in 2015 for more than $3 billion but decided against it. Despite its efforts to turn a profit over the years, Vice has consistently failed, losing money and having to lay off employees repeatedly.
Vice announced the closure of Vice World News just last week, putting an end to a global reporting initiative that covered world conflict and human-rights abuses.
Co-founder Shane Smith established the company’s reputation with his daring reporting from dangerous locations such as North Korea.
SBS Viceland in Australia has also been affected by the news, with its 45-minute Vice News Tonight program being scrapped for good this week.
<p data-chorus-optimize-field="dek">President Zelenskyy visited the G7 and Arab League summits to make Ukraine’s case.</p> <br />