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Time Warner to take Vice stake

US-based Time Warner is set to take a major stake in youth-skewing multimedia outfit Vice Media that could value the company at over US$2.2bn.

Time Warner is said to be at an advanced stage of discussions with Vice, which runs a range of online channels and produces its own TV shows.

The talks were first reported by Sky News, part-owned by 21st Century Fox, which took a 5% stake in Vice last year.

At the time of that investment – which totalled US$70m – Vice was valued at just US$1.4bn. The firm reported revenue of US$175m in 2012.

If the proposed deal goes ahead, Vice is expected to retain control of its operations and could take over HLN, a news platform owned by Time Warner. In return, Time Warner is expected to acquire around half of the enlarged company.

Vice began life as a music and lifestyle magazine but moved into operating YouTube channels and producing a self-titled news programme for HBO, which saw basketball star Dennis Rodman travel to North Korea.

The 12-episode show, fronted by Vice co-founder Shane Smith, was also picked up by Foxtel channel Fox8 in Australia and was last month renewed by HBO for third and fourth seasons. It also featured episodes on the Nigerian oil industry and political assasinations in the Philippines.

Smith told C21 recently that the deal with 21st Century Fox, rather than diluting the edginess of the Vice brand, allowed him to retain control of the business, which he is aiming to scale to become the next MTV, ESPN and CNN all rolled into one.

The company has been busy forging alliances with other traditional media players, launching a food-focused online video destination called Munchies together with FremantleMedia and linking up with Greek broadcaster Antenna Group.

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