Univision wins $181m auction bid for Gawker

NEW YORK • Gawker Media, whose unsparing approach to Web journalism influenced news organisations across the Internet and the wider media world, was sold to Univision at an auction on Tuesday, giving the freewheeling media company an outside owner for the first time since its founding 14 years ago.

American Spanish-language broadcaster Univision bid US$135 million (S$181.2 million) to beat out digital media publisher Ziff Davis, according to three people with direct knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the price had not been made public. A bankruptcy judge is to officially approve the sale at a hearing later this week.

The sale came two months after Gawker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a concession to the financial pressure the company faces from a US$140 million legal judgment in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry G. Bollea.

Billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel, had funded the lawsuit after Gawker had outed him.

Univision will not assume the US$140 million judgment.

It has recently moved aggressively to expand its online portfolio and adding Gawker's sites fits with its plans to extend its reach beyond Spanish-speaking viewers. Univision bought a large stake in The Onion this year and acquired full control of Fusion, the news site and cable channel that it started with the Walt Disney Co. in 2013. Univision also owns other digital media companies, including The Root, a site focused on African-American issues.

In a statement, Gawker's founder and chief executive Nick Denton said: "I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership - disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism."

Univision declined to comment.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Univision wins $181m auction bid for Gawker'. Print Edition | Subscribe