A&E Networks Buying Minority Stake in Vice Media

Vice Media Shane Smith - P 2014
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Vice Media Shane Smith - P 2014

The deal for 10 percent of the digital media company would value it at $2.5 billion

A&E Networks has agreed to pay $250 million for a 10 percent share of Vice Media, a spokesman confirmed on Friday. The deal would presumably give the digital platform for millennials the cable television channel it has been seeking.

The investment, which values Vice at a hefty $2.5 billion, comes on the heels of ended negotiations with Time Warner, which was considering merging Vice with its HLN. TW has also held discussions with The Blaze, a media entity owned by Glenn Beck.

Vice CEO Shane Smith, who co-founded the company 20 years ago, has long wanted to expand into traditional TV. Vice's assets include a magazine, website, record label and film production company. 

A&E, led by Nancy Dubuc, is a co-venture of Hearst Corp. and Disney/ABC Television Group.

While Vice has a reputation for being rebellious and even a bit hostile to its competitors in mainstream media, it also has forged ties there. A little more than a year ago, for example, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox invested $70 million in Vice for a 5 percent stake that valued it at $1.4 billion at the time, and former Viacom CEO Tom Freston is an investor as well.

Vice has a 30-minute TV show on HBO that is famous for sending former NBA player Dennis Rodman and some members of The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team to North Korea to play for dictator Kim Jong-un.