Walt Disney Co. wrote off the rest of its investment in Vice Media, reflecting the ongoing troubles at the onetime media darling.
The charge of $353 million marked the second time in the past year that Disney has taken a hit on the investment.
Vice, which produces a high-profile news show for HBO and operates the Viceland cable channel, has struggled with sluggish ratings and a difficult market for online video — one of its early growth business.
The company, which began as a hipster music and lifestyle magazine, drew investments from some of the biggest names in the media industry under the direction of co-founder Shane Smith, who stepped down from daily operations last year. At one point the business was valued at $5.7 billion.
Vice has been run for a year by Nancy Dubuc, the onetime chief executive officer of A&E Networks, the cable TV business that Disney jointly owns with Hearst Corp. In a further sign of the struggles at the company, Vice let go a number of staffers earlier this year.
“We’re really trying to clarify what is Vice,’’ Dubuc said in an interview with Bloomberg TV earlier this week. “Some of that really was a reflection of how fast the company had grown and being able to take a look at where we could be more strategic going forward.’’
She said that a recent $250 million financing deal with 23 Capital and others would aid her efforts to turn around the business.
Disney owned a blended 21% stake in Vice, directly and through A&E. 21st Century Fox, which Disney acquired in March, held another 6%. Disney took a $157 million writedown its Vice investment last year.
Dubuc declined to say this week when Vice could be profitable. “It’s my No. 1 priority,” she said. “We’re feeling really good about the plan we’ve laid out and hitting that plan.”
A representative for Vice said that the company “is firing on all cylinders and on target to meet, if not exceed, its financial targets for the third straight quarter.”