Vice Media Group Files for Bankruptcy; Creditors Including George Soros Fund Set to Take Over

Vice Media Group, which won a Pulitzer Prize and several Emmy awards in its three-decade run, has bitten the dust after protracted struggles, and has offered itself up for sale to its creditors. The group, which long reigned as a shining media startup with valuations soaring to $5.7 billion at one time, said it was filing for bankruptcy protection.

In its Chapter 11 bankruptcy suit, Vice stated its assets stood at more than $500 million while liabilities were as much as $1 billion. The Brooklyn-based media company said it agreed on a deal under which its creditors would buy its assets for $225 million while taking over its major liabilities. The creditors of Vice include Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital.

Vice Media Group
Vice Media Group Vice

Legacy Liabilities

"We will have new ownership, a simplified capital structure and the ability to operate without the legacy liabilities that have been burdening our business ... We look forward to completing the sale process in the next two to three months," said Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, co-chief executive officers, according to Bloomberg News.

At the end of April, Vice Media said it was cancelling its flagship program Vice News Tonight as part of its efforts to cut costs. "In response to the current market conditions and business realities facing [Vice Media Group] and the broader news and media industry, we are moving forward on some painful but necessary reductions, primarily across our News business," Dixon and Lokhandwala said at that time.

Vice said the cost cuts and employee layoffs were the result of "tough financial realities which continue to challenge the business in the midst of the sales process and changes to our funding model."

In 2022, Vice tried to go public but the move did not win investor confidence in the backdrop of a cooling off in the market. As efforts to raise money were stalled and with outstanding debt increasing, Vice tried to cut costs and then decided to sell itself off so that there will be enough funds to keep key news operations going on. It said in the bankruptcy filing that it had as many as 5,000 creditors.

At the height of its reign as a revered news startup, Vice attracted funding from the likes of private equity firm TPG, Walt Disney Co. and Fox Corp.

Media Firms in Trouble

Other major media companies have also come under pressure in the wake of the recent economic downturn and uncertainties. BuzzFeed folded up its news division altogether, while said it was cutting thousands of jobs. Other major media bigwigs like CNN, The Washington Post, NPR and NBC News have also reduced headcount.