By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
(CNN) — Vice Media, the once-high flying digital media company valued at billions of dollars, is set to be acquired out of bankruptcy by three investment companies, including Fortress Investment Group, for $350 million.
The acquisition of the one-time media powerhouse by its three creditors — made up of Fortress, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital — is set to take place after Vice said in a legal filing Thursday that it received no other satisfactory bids as it explored a sale for the company.
Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, co-chief executives of Vice Media Group, informed staff of the decision in a memo Thursday morning.
“We are providing you with this update in real-time to let you know the Company’s intention to move forward with this sale,” Dixon and Lokhandwala wrote in the memo. “It still hasn’t been finalized by the court, but once it is, it will mark an important milestone on the road to long-term financial health and stability for VMG.”
“Under new ownership,” Dixon and Lokhandwala added, “we look forward to a new chapter in VMG’s history, with a renewed focus and commitment to creating world-class content for our audiences and partners.”
Vice will ask a bankruptcy court on Friday to approve the deal.
The acquisition agreement is the latest in a tumultuous period for Vice Media, which was once held up as the future of the business. In recent years, Vice Media has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that it — and the industry — set for the company, which was once valued at more than $5 billion.
Vice Media has instead found itself ensnared in various business difficulties and executive changes, including the 2018 resignation of co-founder Shane Smith and the departure of his successor, chief executive Nancy Dubuc, earlier this year.
As the company explored a sale, it also restructured and slashed its workforce and canceled its flagship “Vice News Tonight” program.
Vice Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-May. At the time, Fortress, Soros, and Monroe submitted what is known as a “stalking horse bid” for the company’s assets, an initial offer that sets the number on the low end of the scale. That bid was approximately $225 million. On Thursday, Vice filed court documents showing the group had raised its offer to $350 million. The sale process allowed others to make a better bid, but Vice said that no such offers materialized.
GoDigital Media Group disputed the assertion that a better bid had not been submitted.
The company said Thursday that it had submitted a bid for significantly more than the stalking horse bid by the three creditors. A person familiar with the matter told CNN that GoDigital was preparing to submit a bid between $300 million and $350 million.
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