Former News Corp subsidiary 21st Century Fox is set to take a 5 percent stake in digital media and publishing group Vice, the Financial Times reports. The deal will total $70 million, according to Fox’s $1.4 billion appraisal of Vice.
With an announcement set for Monday, the companies are expected to announce a push for Indian and European markets, where Fox already has stakes in existing media companies. Speculation about the deal has been brewing since last October when News Corp head Rupert Murdoch tweeted, “Who’s heard of VICE media? Wild, interesting effort to interest millenials [sic] who don’t read or watch established media. Global success.”
The Brooklyn-based Vice generated about $175 million in revenue last year, per the FT. Expanding on it roots as a music magazine, the brand has cultivated a growing online presence and launched an eponymous TV show on HBO this past April. One recent stunt involved connecting former NBA player Dennis Rodman and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in a “ ‘basketball diplomacy’ mission” and Nobel Prize campaign.
The purchase – which was inked before 21st Century Fox split from News Corp this summer – is line with Vice’s strategy to become a self-controlled international global media force. “I want us to be the next MTV, ESPN and CNN rolled into one,” Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith told the FT in December. “We have set ourselves up to build a global platform but we have maintained control.”
Minority shareholders (including marketing company WPP, Raine banking group, and former Viacom head Tom Freston) hold about 25 percent of the company, with Smith and his co-founders retain control of the board. Smith told the FT that this structure “gives us the freedom to do what we want to do.”