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Axios visuals

Vice Media LLC has acquired Refinery29, the venture-backed digital media company focused on millennial women. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Why it matters: It's the latest media mega-merger between two venture-backed companies that are looking to consolidate for survival.

Details: The deal was signed Tuesday in New York by Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc and Refinery29 co-CEO’s Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries.

  • Money: CNN reported Monday that the deal was rumored to be less than $500 million. Refinery29 has raised over $120 million to date. Executives said in May that the company brought in more than $100 million in revenue last year.
  • Strategy: According to a Vice spokesperson, the hope is that the acquisition will bring the company one step closer to profitability. Refinery29 will remain a distinct brand within the Vice Media Group portfolio, the companies said in a statement.
  • Finances: Guggenheim Securities LLC served as financial adviser and Shearman & Sterling LLP as legal adviser to Vice. Allen & Company LLC and The Raine Group served as financial advisers and Gunderson Dettmer as legal adviser to Refinery29.

What's in it for Vice: The deal will help the company reach more female millennials and bring in more female employees. It will also bolster Vice's e-commerce, events and studios businesses, both of which are key focuses for Refinery29.

  • "Vice Media’s previous employee base had an equal gender split. Now, with the addition of Refinery29, Vice Media Group will have a workforce that is majority women," the company said in a release.

What's in it for Refinery29: Vice will help Refinery29 scale internationally, which has been a growth goal for a long time. Vice says its global footprint accounts for 50% of its revenue.

The backstory: In November, Disney wrote down $157 million of its initial $400 million investment in Vice 3 years ago, shortly after reports suggested that the company was expected to lose $50 million as its revenue fell flat.

  • Vice had scrapped a plan for a 2018 IPO. Reports surfaced that year of sexual harassment problems, which also led to the ousting of CEO and co-founder Shane Smith.
  • In May, Axios reported that Refinery29 was looking to raise an additional $20 million and had already secured about $8 million from its initial investors.
  • The new investment, which would be in the form of convertible debt, would bring the total amount the firm has raised to $145.4 million since 2010.
  • Rumors have been circulating for months that Refinery29 was in talks to sell.

Be smart: Both companies have faced layoffs and product consolidations over the past few years as the advertising landscape has shifted for media companies.

  • Vice Media laid off 10% of its workforce in February. Roughly 250 jobs were cut across all departments and job levels.
  • Refinery29 confirmed last October that it would lay off 40 employees — roughly 10% of its staff. In December 2017, it laid off 34 employees.

What's next: The purpose of the merger is to bring synergies to both companies that will enable them to grow faster and scale their digital operations.

  • Vice says that its revenue performance was the best in the company’s history for the first half of this year, up more than 14% year-over-year in the 2nd quarter alone. It attributes that success to its branded content and licensing studios.
  • Refinery29 has also experienced growth in its licensing operations. In May, Axios reported that the company's fundraising efforts would be used to expand its originals studio and events business, as well as to grow internationally.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

Updated 8 hours ago - Sports

Uganda Olympic team member tests positive for COVID in Tokyo

The Uganda National boxing team's Catherine Nanziri (L) and others arrive for check-in at Entebbe international airport in Wakiso, Uganda on Friday, ahead of their departure to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said.

Why it matters: Japan's government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women's softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

In photos: Brazilians rally against Bolsonaro as COVID deaths top 500,000

A June 19 protest in São Paulo, Brazil, against the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has railed against precautionary health measures despite the soaring COVID-19 death rate and cases. Photo: Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

Demonstrators took to the streets in at least 22 of Brazil’s 26 states to protest President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic — as deaths from COVID-19 in the country surged past 500,000 Saturday, per AP.

The big picture: Brazil has the world's second-highest coronavirus death toll and third-highest number of reported cases. Only 12% of the country's population has been vaccinated against the virus, AP notes.