A+E Close to Buying 10% of Vice Media for $250 Million

A+E Networks is close to buying a 10 percent stake in Vice Media Inc., a deal that would value the company at about $2.5 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The purchase by A+E, the TV programmer owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., may be announced as soon as next week, said the people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Disney and Hearst each own 50 percent of A+E, which operates its namesake cable channel, along with Lifetime and History Channel.

Started as a counterculture magazine, Vice Media’s primary business today is video. It operates a lineup of online channels that include news, sports, technology, music and food. It also has a show on Time Warner Inc.’s HBO. 21st Century Fox Inc. owns a 5 percent stake, acquired last year for $70 million.

Vice Media will explore opportunities to provide programming for A+E networks, according to the people, potentially gaining a new outlet for its work. The deal also gives Vice Media money to invest, including funds for news-gathering in far-flung areas.

Media critics have praised the company for a recent series on the Islamic State, the armed militant organization that has seized parts of Iraq and Syria.

Vice Media, which draws viewers to its own sites and on YouTube, appeals to a young demographic that cable networks want to reach. Popular A+E shows, including the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” and “Ice Road Truckers,” attract an older male audience.

The Financial Times reported on the deal yesterday. Time Warner was also in talks to buy a stake in Vice Media. Those talks have ended, a person with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.