Vice Media acquires Refinery29

Refinery29 will remain a distinct brand within the Vice Media Group portfolio

After months of speculation, Vice Media has acquired fellow online publisher Refinery29.

Now that both sides have crossed the finish line, the deal is expected to close before the end of the year for an undisclosed amount. Variety reports that Vice is sending mostly stock to Refinery29, along with a small cash consideration.

Vice Media’s chief executive officer Nancy Dubuc will lead the combined entity, now called Vice Media Group. The company said the rest of the leadership structure will be announced after the deal closes.

In a memo sent to Vice Media staff, Dubuc wrote that there are four reasons for acquiring Refinery29.

“[One], the strength of their business based on a deep connection of their audience through great content experiences; 2) the synergies between our two cultures, values and beliefs; 3) the increased impact and reach that will result from coming together for our clients; and 4) the incremental growth in our overall business as we move closer to positive returns.”

The new Vice Media Group says its global audience will now grow to 350m unique monthly visits, a 17% increase. Its workforce will now be majority women, thanks to the influx of employees from women-led Refinery29.

Both Vice and Refinery29 operate similar business units: digital-first editorial teams, content studios and internal ad agencies. Dubuc said the companies will not operate as a combined unit until the deal closes.

“[Refinery29’s] continued growth is impressive and we can’t wait to take the Vice global footprint and accelerate their international growth into new markets,” Dubuc wrote to staff. “For all these reasons and more, Refinery29 will remain Refinery29 – a distinct brand, voice and an independent space for women.”

As part of a recent restructure, Vice Media gave its brands, such as Munchies and Noisey, dedicated verticals within the Vice website instead of propping up standalone sites.

Both publishers have hit hard times. Vice Media laid off 10% of its staff in February and then took $353m write down. Refinery29 also cut 10% of its workforce last October after its annual revenue fell 5% short.

“This transformational partnership will allow our mission and business to flourish further,” said Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano, co-chief executive officers of Refinery29. “We are proud to partner with Nancy and Vice Media Group, and we are confident that together we will be able to expand our vital role in shaping culture and positively impacting the world for young people everywhere.”

Refinery29 joins Vice Media’s global staff of around 2,500 employees. A spokesperson said it’s too early to say whether any layoffs will follow the deal.

In a public statement, Dubuc said Vice Media and Refinery29 are consolidating in response to larger consolidation across media.

“We will not allow a rapidly consolidating media ecosystem to constrict young people’s choices or their ability to freely express themselves about the things they care about most,” said Dubuc. “At Vice and Refinery29, the megaphone is theirs to use and the platforms are theirs to build with us.”

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