Vice Media is about to acquire Refinery29, a digital media company that describes itself as a “modern woman’s destination.”
Though the deal has not yet closed, the two companies expect to be able to announce the acquisition soon, two executives involved in the deal told CNN Business. They confirmed Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal report that said both sides “have hammered out most of the details of a cash-and-stock deal.”
According to the Journal, some of Refinery29’s founders and senior managers will “stay on” once Vice takes over.
Refinery29 launched in 2005. Its Series D funding round in 2016 reportedly valued the company at $500 million.
According to the sources, the stock-and-cash deal will value Refinery29 at less than $500 million, but the exact dollar amount is unknown.
To date, Refinery29 has taken on $133.4 million in venture capital funding, according to Crunchbase.
For Vice, the addition of a well-known, women-focused brand is part of a strategy to bulk up and better compete for digital ad dollars.
Vice, which installed A&E Networks chief Nancy Dubuc as CEO a year and a half ago, has tried to erase its frathouse image and present itself as a grown-up business. Last fall she said a “strategic sale” is likely in Vice’s future, “but I’d like to see a good couple of years of continued growth under our belts first.”
One of the executives involved in the deal said it’s about laying “Refinery’s purpose driven brand on top of Vice’s infrastructure.”
The other source said Vice is positioning itself as the “largest of independent new media companies, taking advantage of opportunities in the current market.”
Still, it is likely to be an uphill battle. One of Vice’s key backers, Disney, wrote down its entire investment earlier this year, signaling that it believes it won’t get its $400-plus million back.
Soon thereafter, Vice raised $250 million in debt, which a spokeswoman said would help “execute our new leadership’s strategic vision for the company.”
- Kerry Flynn contributed to this article