Bankrupt Vice Media’s Assets to be Acquired by Lender Group for $350 Million

Bankrupt Vice Media, the U.S.-Canadian digital media company once valued at $5.7 billion, with business partnerships with Fox and Disney, among others, has reportedly agreed to a $350 million bid for its assets from lenders, led by Fortress Investment Group, which initially bid $225 million. The offer, which must be approved by a bankruptcy judge, is expected to close in July.

Fortress would pay for the bid through its previous lending to Vice, which enables the investment firm to operate the media company without any pre-existing debt. Co-founder Shane Smith, along with current co-CEOs Hozefa Lokhandwala and Bruce Dixon are expected to remain in charge of operations, according to the New York Times, which cited sources familiar with the situation.

Vice, which operated, Vice Studios, Vice TV (also known as Viceland), Vice News and Virtue, a creative services arm, filed for bankruptcy last month.

Recent notable Vice productions include Max original series “Bama Rush,” about four University of Alabama college freshman attempting to join a sorority; and the ESPN mini-series “The American Gladiators Documentary.” In 2019, Vice produced the Netflix documentary “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann,” and “Gangs of London” for HBO, among other titles.

Vewd Software Gets $10 Million Lifeline After Bankruptcy Filing

Vewd Software, a Norwegian-based over-the-top video tech provider to myriad companies, including Redbox, Cinedigm and Vizio, has received a $10 million lifeline from its lenders two days after a Dec. 15 voluntary bankruptcy filing.

Under the prepackaged plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, Vewd will swap $118 million in debt as equity to its lenders. The company cited the pandemic and a shareholder dispute for its fiscal troubles.

“As we embark on our next phase of growth in a highly dynamic, fast-paced industry, it has become imperative that we boost our ability to invest into the accelerated roll-out of our new products and solutions,” Vewd CEO Aneesh Rajaram said in a statement.

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Launched in 2002, the Oslo-based company claims to embed its streaming technology on 40 million connected TVs, set-top boxes, game consoles and cars each year.

“We look forward to emerging from this process with a healthy balance sheet, empowering Vewd to continue its growth trajectory within the evolving OTT industry,” Rajaram said. “Future owners have demonstrated a clear commitment to our company’s long-term success and our mission to enable entertainment everywhere.”

Analyst: AMC Theatres Bankruptcy ‘Likely’

Don’t count on Wall Street being a friend during the coronavirus pandemic if you’re a movie exhibitor.

Longtime analyst Eric Handler with MKM Partners April 9 issued a note with a “sell” rating on AMC Entertainment shares, contending the parent to AMC Theatres — the nation’s largest exhibitor — is likely headed toward bankruptcy.

“Based on our view that theaters will be closed until at least August and our belief that AMC lacks the liquidity to stay afloat during that time, we expect the company will soon be faced with filing for bankruptcy,” Handler wrote. “Further fueling our liquidity concerns is AMC’s decision to stop paying rents to landlords.”

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AMC, which operates 1,000 theaters and about 11,000 screens worldwide, has seen its business literally shutdown overnight as fears about the coronavirus spread resulted in state governments banning groups of more than 10 people.

AMC shares have rebounded slightly to more than $3 after falling to $2 per share on April 3.

At the outset of the pandemic, AMC reportedly had about $600 million in assets, which have steadily evaporated as the chain spends upwards of tens of millions of dollars weekly on overhead expenses with zero revenue coming in.

CEO Adam Aron has called on assistance from the recently passed $2.2 trillion relief package from Congress. “We don’t need a bailout, we just need loans, which we will be able to pay back with interest when we re-open and revenues start coming back in the door,” Aron said on March 21.

Four days later, Aron and 600 other AMC executives were furloughed by the parent company. Aron continues to sound positive, telling CNBC on March 31 he thought theaters could be back operating by mid-June.

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Disney, which has dominated the box office in recent year, has Pixar Animation’s Soul slated to bow in June with live-action Mulan rescheduled for July 24 from its original March 27 debut.

Disney executive chairman Bob Iger told Barron’s the studio’s tentpole titles have been put on hold, but other movies could be headed for early release on subscription streaming video platform Disney+.

“In terms of movies going ahead after [Artemis Fowl] there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we’ll simply wait for slots,” Iger said. “In some cases, we’ve announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.”

Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, doubts AMC will default on its debt until they breach year-end covenants or stop paying debt service.

“Their landlords could force them into bankruptcy, but it doesn’t really make sense for them to do so, since there isn’t going to be a ton of demand for the real estate when everyone else is closed,” Pachter said in an email.

The analyst believes the situation underscores why some AMC creditors are seeking legal counsel to see if they could force bankruptcy sooner.

“[Bankruptcy] is unlikely till year-end without an external trigger,” Pachter said. “The company might choose to file for a restructuring [Chapter 11], which is what the creditors are hoping for.”

The Weinstein Co. Files for Bankruptcy Protection

As expected, The Weinstein Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware – five months after allegations of improper sexual behavior by co-founder and co-chairman Harvey Weinstein derailed the venerable studio/distributor.

TWC reportedly is set to sell its assets to Dallas-based investor group Lantern Capital Partners.

“Under the agreement, Lantern will purchase substantially all of the assets of [TWC], subject to certain conditions, including approval of the bankruptcy court,” TWC said in a statement reported by NPR. “The [TWC board] selected Lantern in part due to Lantern’s commitment to maintain the assets and employees as a going concern.”

Notable to the deal: removal of non-disclosure agreements allegedly used by Harvey Weinstein to silence his female accusers.

“The company expressly releases any confidentiality provision to the extent it has prevented individuals who suffered or witnessed any form of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein from telling their stories,” read the statement.

Earlier this month, an investor group led by former Small Business Administration head (under President Obama) Maria Contreras-Sweet and investor Ron Burkle, had agreed to pay $500 million for the TWC, which included assumption of $225 million in debt.

That deal fell apart reportedly after additional liabilities totaling more than $60 million were discovered.