Vox Media and Group Nine Media in Talks to Merge

From a Wall Street Journal story by Amol Sharma and Benjamin Mullin headlined “Vox Media, Group Nine Media in Advanced Talks to Merge”:

Vox Media is in advanced talks to merge with Group Nine Media Inc., a deal that would unite two of the biggest players in digital media.

The companies are discussing an all-stock transaction that would give Vox Media 75% ownership of the combined company, with the remaining 25% going to Group Nine Media. Vox Media Chief Executive Jim Bankoff would helm the company.

Mr. Bankoff confirmed the deal talks after The Wall Street Journal first reported on them.

Vox Media, owner of media properties including tech-focused website the Verge, current-events site Vox.com and sports-focused SB Nation, has been expanding. In August, it agreed to acquire cocktail website Punch to deepen its coverage of food and drinks. Vox has explored ways to raise cash for further growth, including the possibility of going public….

Group Nine Media, whose brands include news outlet NowThis, lifestyle site Thrillist and animal-focused the Dodo, has also been an active consolidator in the media space. It earlier explored a deal with BuzzFeed and in 2019 purchased female-skewing digital-media .

Group Nine last year formed a special-purpose acquisition company to explore potential acquisitions. A deal with Vox Media wouldn’t involve the SPAC.

The combined company is expected to generate more than $700 million in revenue in 2022 and more than $100 million in profit…making it one of the biggest players in the space….

“The business rationale behind this merger is to grow revenue, increase scale, and combine these incredibly powerful and complementary portfolios,” Mr. Bankoff said….

Mr. Bankoff said he expected the deal to be signed soon. He said Group Nine Media Chief Executive Ben Lerer would be a director on the combined firm’s board.

Digital media executives say the industry is primed for consolidation. Many players believe they need more scale to compete effectively for online ad dollars and expand further in areas such as e-commerce, events and podcasting. BuzzFeed Inc., which recently began trading as a public company after a deal with a SPAC, has signaled its interest in doing deals. Bustle Digital Group also has explored deals with a SPAC.

After a merger of Vox Media and Group Nine, the combined firm could be in position to pursue additional deals….


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