The Brooklyn-based Vice Media, a youth-oriented digital media and broadcasting company with 3,000 employees could be taken over by Greek broadcaster Antenna which is exploring the idea, media reports said.
Three sources not identified but said to be familiar with the possibility told The New York Times about private talks for a deal that, if done, would seal a longstanding business relationship between the companies.
It’s far from a done deal though as the paper said there are other potential bidders for Vice, which had a $5.7 billion valuation in 2017 before changes in the digital media market and the paper said there may be no sale at all.
Vice started in the 1990s as an alternative magazine based in Montreal but over the next two decades convinced big advertisers and investors to take part in a plan to establish an international media force to go against major players.
One of those backers was Antenna Group, a media company that in 2014 started a joint venture with Vice in Greece and which in 2019 expanded the deal to start up an an international news site, Vice World News.
Antenna Group, a privately-held media and entertainment company with a presence in Central and Eastern Europe, distributes Vice’s programming in Greece, Romania, Serbia, and in the Balkans.
The paper said that Vice has concentrate on diversifying its revenue streams in recent years, expanding its Vice Studio business; its ad agency, Virtue; and its global news gathering division which improved profitability.
The Information reported earlier that Vice had hired advisers to explore a sale of its studio business. CNBC reported the company was exploring a sale of its entire business, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Group Black, a media company focused on Black ownership, was exploring a deal for Vice.
Vice, as have many digital news companies, looked into going public with a special purpose acquisition vehicle, but interest in that has dropped on Wall Street, with Vice switching to funding from investors.
Those includes Antenna, the private equity firm TPG and Lupa Systems, the investment firm of James Murdoch, son of the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as Vice still looks to be a major figure in the business.