TPG has reportedly invested $450 million for a minority stake in Vice Media, giving the millennial-focused news company a valuation of $5.7 billion. Capital for the deal came via TPG’s $10.5 billion buyout fund, TPG Partners VII, per Bloomberg. The vehicle wrapped up fundraising last year.
Vice will direct the funds toward a variety of initiatives, including building an in-house video studio that will produce scripted shows and films to go along with the company’s better-known documentaries and news programs. In addition, the Brooklyn-based company plans to offer video subscription packages, expand internationally and invest in different niche coverage areas.
“This will allow us to build up the largest millennial video library in the world —enabling Vice to widen our offering to include news, food, music, fashion, art, travel, gaming, lifestyle, scripted and feature films,” CEO and co-founder Shane Smith (left) said in a statement, according to various media reports.
The investment marks a big uptick in Vice's worth after Disney (NYSE: DIS) invested $400 million in the media company at a roughly $4 billion valuation in 2015. Rumors of a corporate acquisition or IPO have been circulating for a while, and Smith did nothing to squash IPO chatter during an interview with CNBC.
"It's what we would do if we were going to go public—is get a third party paying and start building our book, and bringing in revenue on a sort of hockey stick basis," Smith told CNBC of the TPG round. "So that theoretical IPO would look very sexy."
Vice’s financial health represents a stark contrast to media companies that are suffering from the decline in print advertising revenue and the Google-Facebook stronghold over the digital advertising market. Founded in 1994 as a liberal print magazine in Quebec, Vice has grown into a full-fledged media empire. It produces weekly and daily programming for HBO and last year launched its own channel, Viceland. Meanwhile, it's been successful at pushing irreverent content through YouTube, Snapchat and other digital platforms.
Perhaps that accounts for why Vice continues to stuff its coffers while the rest of the media world struggles. Consider: PE investments in the US media sector dropped from 158 transactions in 2015 to 134 in 2016, per the PitchBook Platform. And the industry is off to an especially sluggish start this year, with just 36 deals completed so far.
Vice appears to be an exception. With the fresh financing, Smith's company has raised nearly $1.5 billion from corporate, VC and PE investors.