Disney writes down $353 million of its stake in Vice, chopping its valuation of the media startup for the 2nd time

Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VICE MediaVice cofounder and executive chairman Shane Smith and CEO Nancy Dubuc.
  • Disney is taking another hit on its stake in Vice.
  • The media conglomerate, which has an 21% effective ownership interest in Vice, wrote down $US353 million of its stake in the digital-media company during its second quarter of 2019.
  • This is Disney’s second Vice-related write-down in less than a year. It wrote down another $US157 million of its stake in the September 2018 quarter.
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There’s bad news in Viceland.

The Walt Disney Co. disclosed on Wednesday a $US353 million write-down of its stake in Vice Media when Disney reported earnings for its second quarter of 2019. This is Disney’s second Vice-related write-down in less than a year. The company also wrote down $US157 million of its Vice investment in the September 2018 period.

Disney appears to have concluded that it won’t see a return from its stake in the digital-media company. The company described the latest $US353 million impairment as a “write-off” in its latest quarterly filing, a term used when there is nothing left to write-down and the entire asset has been scrubbed from the company’s balance sheet, as Vox’s Recode pointed out.

As of March, Disney effectively owned 21% of Vice. 21st Century Fox, which Disney completed acquiring assets from during the March quarter, owned another 6%.

The disclosure comes as Vice raised $US250 million in debt in May while working to make the digital-media outfit profitable,The Wall Street Journal first reported. Vice was last valued at $US5.7 billion in 2017, but Disney appears to be valuing its stake at virtually nothing.

Disney invested $US400 million in the company in 2015. It also owns stakes in Vice through A&E, a joint venture between Disney and Hearst, and the assets Disney acquired from 21st Century Fox.

Overall, Vice has raised about $US1.4 billion through several rounds of funding, in addition to the $US250 million in debt announced this month.

Vice is “on target to meet, if not exceed, its financial targets for the third straight quarter,” a Vice spokesperson told Business Insider in response to Disney’s write-down. “Our new executive team’s strategic plan is well underway and with the recent capital raise, we will continue investing in the long-term growth of our five global businesses – television, studio, digital, news and our advertising agency, Virtue.”

Disney did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment on the write-off.

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