Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US) is in talks to acquire a stake in Vice Media Inc., the company that combines punk culture with online journalism, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The discussions value Vice Media at $2 billion to almost $3 billion, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. Vice Media has a show on HBO, one of Time Warner’s cable-television channels.
Alex Detrick, a spokesman for Vice Media, declined to comment, as did Keith Cocozza, a spokesman for Time Warner. Both companies are based in New York.
A deal would give Time Warner’s TV network a property that has successfully developed content for new formats such as the web, as well as traditional TV. Vice Media, known for its savvy packaging of youth culture, attracts a younger male audience coveted by advertisers from YouTube to HBO, where its correspondents report from areas of conflict around the globe. The company also makes “The Vice Guide to Everything” for Viacom Inc.’s MTV.
The company, backed by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, has said that it’s poised to double revenue to $1 billion by 2016. Co-founder Shane Smith had said a March interview with Bloomberg TV that Vice Media may pursue an initial public offering.
Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. acquired about a 5 percent stake in Vice Media last year, according to Smith. The price was $70 million, Fox said in a regulatory filing, suggesting a valuation of $1.4 billion. Murdoch’s son, James, sits on the company’s board.
The talks were reported earlier today by Sky News, which said that one potential deal structure involved Time Warner injecting its HLN news channel into Vice Media in return for about half of the enlarged company.
Time Warner, which just spun off its magazine unit Time Inc., also owns the CNN cable news channel and the Warner Bros. film studio.
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