Disney disclosed a $353 million impairment charge for its investment in Vice Media — another sign that the youth-culture company has significantly lost ground in the past year.
The Mouse House’s write-down, included as part of its robust earnings announcement for the March quarter, comes after Disney took a $157 million impairment charge for Vice in the September 2018 quarter.
Vice carried a soaring $5.7 billion valuation less than two years ago. What the Brooklyn-based media company is worth now is unclear. Disney originally invested $400 million into Vice, when it was valued at $4 billion.
Currently, Disney holds a 21% effective ownership in Vice, while 21st Century Fox has an additional 6% interest in Vice.
Last week, Vice disclosed a $250 million cash infusion in debt financing from an investment consortium led by financing firm 23 Capital, with participation by George Soros’ Soros Fund Management, Fortress Investment Group and Monroe Capital.
The once high-flying Vice has suffered a shortfall in revenue goals, and laid off about 250 employees, or 10% of its staff, earlier this year.
Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc, hired last year to lead the company’s turnaround efforts, has set a target of achieving profitability within the next fiscal year. The ex-CEO of A+E Networks restructured the company around five lines of business: digital, news, Vice Studios (film and TV production), the Viceland cable channel (a partnership with A+E, which is 50% owned by Disney), and in-house ad agency Virtue.
“Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks,” Dubuc wrote in a Feb. 1 memo to employees about the reorg.
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