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Vice Media’s dreams of going public appear to be on hold for the time being, with the company choosing instead to raise $135 million from some of its existing investors, including James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, TPG and TCV, as well as Sixth Street and Antenna Group.
The cash infusion will be used “to fund its growth initiatives including expanding Vice’s direct-to-consumer offerings, content licensing opportunities, commercial and experiential expansion, as well as M&A,” the company said Thursday.
As part of the new funding round, Vice co-founder Shane Smith will continue to serve as executive chairman. Smith stepped aside as CEO of the company in 2018, handing day-to-day responsibilities to A+E Networks veteran Nancy Dubuc. The TV executive was tasked with cleaning up the company’s culture and bringing it to profitability, with the ultimate goal of securing some sort of exit.
Vice last raised money in 2017 at a rich $5.7 billion valuation. It is not immediately clear what the company is valued at today.
“We believe we are in a stronger position today than ever before and we look forward to taking this business to the next level with this additional investment,” Dubuc said in a statement Thursday. “Management and our investors believe strongly in the intrinsic value and strong prospects of Vice — now and in the future. We have worked closely with them to develop and put in motion a comprehensive strategic and financial plan to continue moving Vice forward, and we are confident that this is the right step for the company at this time.”
Vice had been in talks for months to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), joining fellow digital media giants BuzzFeed, Group Nine Media and BDG in exploring the space. However, as SPACs have come under scrutiny in recent months by regulators, the supplementary funding that typically accompanies these types of deals has dried up.
Most SPAC mergers bring in so-called PIPE financing (private investment in public equity) to go along with the pool of money in the SPAC, but with the market cooling, so is the financing. BuzzFeed, in its SPAC merger, had to secure $150 million in debt financing to get the deal done.
The Information first reported on the new funding round, adding that Smith will give it majority voting rights.
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