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Vice Media files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, latest in series of digital media setbacks


NEW YORK (AP) — Vice Media files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, latest digital media company faltering after meteoric rise.

Vice said Monday it has agreed to sell its assets to a consortium of lenders – Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital – in exchange for $225 million in credit. Other parties may also submit bids.

The bankruptcy filing comes just weeks after the company announced it would cancel its flagship “Vice News Tonight” amid a spate of layoffs — expected to affect more than 100 employees in the company’s 1,500 workforce, the company reported. Wall Street Journal. The company also said it would discontinue its Vice World News brand, making Vice News the sole brand in the world.

Monday’s filing comes amid a spate of media layoffs and closures — including job cuts at Gannett, NPR, the Washington Post and more in recent months. In April, BuzzFeed Inc. announced that its Pulitzer Prize-winning digital media outlet BuzzFeed News was shutting down as part of a cost-cutting effort by its parent company.

Digital advertising has fallen sharply this year, driving down the profitability of major tech companies, from Google to Facebook.

Vice Media’s roots date back to 1994, with the launch of Vice’s original punk magazine in Montreal. Vice soon moved to New York and built itself into a global media company.

Over the years, Vice has built a reputation for in-your-face journalism doing bold stories around the world. The media company’s assets also include film and TV production, an in-house marketing agency, and brands such as Refinery 29 and Unbothered.

The media company has struggled to turn around profits in recent years. Amid the financial crisis, Vice secured $30 million in debt financing from Fortress Investment Group in February, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In 2017, Vice was valued at $5.7 billion. Now, however, most experts estimate the company is worth only a fraction of that, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

Vice co-CEOs Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala said the sale process will strengthen the company and position it for long-term growth, “ensuring the kind of authentic journalism and content creation that has made VICE such a trusted brand for young people and all a valued partner of brands, agencies and platforms.”

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.