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Vice Media sells 10% stake to A+E Networks

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MUMBAI: Shortly after media reports about Time Warner ending talks to buy a stake in Vice Media flashed, Financial Times reported that Vice is wrapping up a deal to sell a 10 per cent stake to A+E Networks, the cable television group jointly owned by Walt Disney and Hearst Corporation for $250 million.

According to the report, the sale could be announced as early as next week. This deal puts the entire company’s market value at $2.5 billion which represents a steep increase in Vice's valuation since last year. The company, last year, sold a 5 per cent stake to Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox for $70 million, valuing the company at $1.4 billion then.

Talking to the Financial Times, Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith said, “It’s a great deal for us, it means we can preserve our independence and it gives us a war chest for another three years of dramatic growth.”

Smith also added that Vice is exploring the possibility of having its own channel, for the moment it will be producing programming for the network, which runs shows such as Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars.

Vice operates a global network of online channels covering news, sport, technology and music. The company currently has 25 offices across six continents, while its YouTube channel has around 4 million subscribers and over 500 million views.

According to reports, while Vice will produce digital and cable programming for A+E as part of the deal, it will not currently take over running any of its cable channels.

Until recently, Time Warner was in acquisition talks with Vice about buying a 40 per cent stake in the company. The deal would have reportedly valued the company at about $2 billion. But talks stalled due to disputes over Vice's valuation, The New York Times reported.

Founded in 1994, Vice started out as a Montreal music and youth culture magazine but has since expanded into web content, making a splash with its myriad documentary videos on YouTube. It also has a television series on HBO. Vice's free magazine is printed in 28 countries. 

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