Judge pauses BuzzFeed France shutdown

buzzfeed

BuzzFeed’s effort to close its French edition was stymied Wednesday by a French judge’s ruling saying the U.S. publisher had not provided enough information to demonstrate it had cause to shut BuzzFeed France down, according to staffers.

BuzzFeed is required to turn over additional documents to create a clearer picture of BuzzFeed France’s finances, including an audit of BuzzFeed France’s finances by its corporate parent in 2017, said a source familiar with the matter.

In a statement, BuzzFeed said it “will comply with today’s ruling and provide the court with additional information, which we believe will further validate our decision to reevaluate our current operations in France. We remain firm in our intent and committed to providing our employees with the support they need throughout this process.”

BuzzFeed has 10 days to provide those documents, and will incur fines if it fails to produce them on time. Once the documents have been turned over to French authorities, the review process will start from the beginning.

In the meantime, BuzzFeed France’s employees, who vowed to strike on Monday, have gone back to work, said the source familiar with the matter.

Since its founding in 2013, BuzzFeed France has not had its own sales staff, instead relying on its U.K. sales operation. It made $80,000 in profit in 2017 after operating in the red in 2016, according to reports.

At the beginning of June, BuzzFeed announced internally its plans to reorganize itself at home and abroad as it shifts its focus more toward programmatic advertising and away from announcing 45 new job listings as well as about 20 layoffs. The venture-backed publisher reportedly missed its revenue targets in 2017.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said BuzzFeed has to turn over a seven-figure contract between BuzzFeed France and BuzzFeed UK.

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