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August 19, 2013

Murdoch acquires stake in Vice as it looks for ‘aggressive push’ in India and Europe

By Press Gazette

Rupert Murdoch has bought a 5 per cent stake in digital media group Vice for a reported $70m.

The deal, expected to be completed today, will be done through Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment division, which decoupled from parent company News Corp and its publishing businesses earlier this year.

Vice began as an underground Canadian music magazine in the 1990s has grown in recent years into an international multi-media company.

In 2012, it generated global revenue of around $175m, according to the Financial Times.

The FT said that Murdoch’s investment would help its “aggressive push” into India and help its expansion in Europe, where 21st Century Fox already owns stakes in a number of broadcasters.

Shane Smith, chief executive and co-founder of Vice, told the paper: “I want us to be the next MTV, ESPN and CNN rolled into one – and everyone always rolls their eyes.

“The reality is that MTV was bought by Viacom and CNN went to Time Warner. We have set ourselves up to build a global platform but we have maintained control.”

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Following the deal, minority shareholders will make up around 25 per cent of the company, but Smith and the other co-founders will continue to have control of the board.

Vice’s UK arm celebrated its tenth anniversary last December, claiming that it was beginning to move away from its roots as a culture and lifestyle title and had begun to challenge traditional media with its coverage of hard news.

Editor-in-chief Alex Miller told Press Gazette: “I think that we’re all as one in agreement that news is more interesting than frivolity, and that actually with the world as it is, and the way it has been for the last decade, it’s madness to turn away from current affairs.

“I think there’s a much needed role for us as an organisation that’s not bogged down in decades of bureaucracy and can actually speak to young people in an honest and interested manner.”

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