James Murdoch’s venture firm, Lupa Systems, has reportedly bought a small stake in Vice Media. The deal underlines the former Fox executive’s longstanding ties to the brand at an eventful time in its two-decade run.
The Financial Times, which reported the investment, cited unidentified sources close to the deal, which it said was a small position that valued the company at $4 billion.
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Vice declined to comment and Lupa did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The move comes just a few days after Vice announced it was buying female-skewing digital brand Refinery29.
Murdoch, who sits on Vice’s board, had been a backer as well during his time as CEO of 21st Century Fox. After Disney bought most of Fox for $71.3 billion in a deal that closed in March, Murdoch set up Lupa with his proceeds from the transaction. It has thus far not made direct investments in media companies, though it bought the Madison Square Garden Co.’s share of the Tribeca Film Festival last summer.
Another link between Murdoch and Vice is Jesse Angelo, the former longtime New York Post editor and publisher who replaced Josh Tyrangiel as the head of Vice News earlier this year. Murdoch and Angelo are friends and former classmates.
For Vice, which began as an alternative magazine in Montreal in the 1990s, the influx of new cash comes as it looks to regain momentum amid a host of changes and challenges. Now run by former longtime A+E Networks boss Nancy Dubuc, Vice has undergone layoffs and a restructuring. It also recently ended its long and lucrative association with HBO, finding new homes for its documentaries and news shows on Showtime and Hulu.
Daily news program Vice News Tonight, meanwhile, has shifted from HBO to the Viceland cable network. Lackluster ratings at Viceland, which is operated by A+E, have hampered the network since its 2016 rebrand, but Vice overall has also garnered prizes for its news and documentary programming and lured talent from major news outlets.