- Vice Media has declared Fortress Investment Group the winning bidder for the company as it plans to emerge from bankruptcy.
- Fortress led a group of lenders that offered a $225 million stalking horse bid for Vice when it entered bankruptcy protection in May. The group later increased its offer to $350 million.
- GoDigital submitted a bid for $300 million but Fortress had concerns about the potential acquirer's funding, according to sources.
Vice Media has declared Fortress Investment Group the winning bidder for the company as it plans to emerge from bankruptcy.
Fortress led a group of lenders that offered a $225 million stalking horse bid for Vice when it entered bankruptcy protection in May. The group later increased its offer to $350 million, according to court papers filed Thursday.
Vice received multiple bids for the company, but none of them "rose to the level of being deemed a superior bid," according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC.
Closely held GoDigital submitted one of the bids at a $300 million valuation, according to a person familiar with the matter. Fortress wanted more cash in the offer and had concerns about GoDigital's funding, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to speak publicly because the bidding details are private.
"Our offer was significantly more than the stalking horse bid by the sellers," GoDigital said in a statement. "The sellers chose to turn down this opportunity even though it was a bid higher than their own."
GoDigital chief strategy officer Craig Greiwe added in a statement to CNBC that the company "remains ready to acquire Vice on reasonable terms and had demonstrated the financial ability to do so as part of this process."
Fortress had been part of a consortium of lenders including Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital that provided financing to Vice in 2019. Vice filed for bankruptcy with a credit bid from the group.
Following failed sale processes before the filing, Fortress and the lenders were prepared to take control of Vice, a person familiar with the matter said. Fortress had become one of the leaders of the pre-bankruptcy sale processes, CNBC previously reported.
A bankruptcy-run auction – which was canceled since no other bids were deemed qualified – was a way of checking the market to see if the company's assets could get a higher valuation, the person added.
The lender group will likely own the company for the next two-to-three years before trying to offload it once again, the person said. In the meantime, the new ownership will look to further shave off the business, and will entertain offers for individual assets, the person added.
Vice will present the sale to bankruptcy court on Friday and expects the acquisition to close then, the company said in the memo.
The sale closes a chapter for the digital media company, which was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017. Vice owns a series of assets including Vice News, Vice Studios, Refinery29 and an ad agency called Virtue.
Spokespeople for Vice and Fortress declined to comment.
WATCH: Roku CEO discusses streaming and digital advertising at Cannes Lions 2023