February 23, 2024


An overview of the atmosphere at the VICE Kills TX Music Showcase during the 2013 SXSW Music, Movies + Interactive Festival at Viceland in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2013. (Photo: Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW)

Hutton Supancic | Getty Images

Vice Media announced Fortress Investment Group as the winning bidder for the company as it plans to emerge from bankruptcy.

When Vice entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, Fortress led a group of lenders that made a $225 million dark horse bid for Vice. The group later raised its offer to $350 million, according to court documents filed Thursday.

According to an internal memo obtained by CNBC, Vice received multiple bids for the company, but none “reached a level to be considered a superior bid.”

Minority-owned GoDigital submitted one of the offers, valuing it at $300 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Fortress wanted more cash in the acquisition and raised concerns about GoDigital’s funding, according to two people familiar with the matter. They asked not to speak publicly because details of the bidding are private.

“Our offer was significantly higher than the seller’s bid,” GoDigital said in a statement. “The seller chose to decline this opportunity despite offering a higher bid than their own.”

GoDigital Chief Strategy Officer Craig Greiwe added in a statement to CNBC that the company “remains prepared to acquire Vice on reasonable terms and has demonstrated its financial ability to do so as part of that process.”

Fortress is part of a consortium of lenders including Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital, which provided financing for Vice in 2019. Vice filed for bankruptcy over the group’s credit bid.

Fortress and lenders are poised to take over Vice after a pre-application sale process failed, a person familiar with the matter said. Fortress has emerged as one of the leaders in the pre-bankruptcy sale process, CNBC previously reported.

The bankruptcy auction, which was a way to check the market to see if the company’s assets could command a higher valuation, was called off because no other bids were deemed eligible, the person added.

The lending group could own the company for the next two to three years before trying to sell it again, the person said. In the meantime, the new ownership will cut the business further and will accept takeover offers for personal assets, the person added.

Vice said in the memo that it will file the sale with bankruptcy court on Friday and expects the acquisition to close by then.

The sale marks a new chapter for the digital media company Worth $5.7 billion in 2017. Vice owns a portfolio of properties including Vice News, Vice Studios, Refinery29 and an advertising agency called Virtue.

Spokespeople for Vice and Fortress declined to comment.

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