Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

LA Instances bought to billionaire doctor

LA Instances bought to billionaire doctor

The deal, if reached, could see Soon-Shiong buying both the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for roughly $500 million plus pension liabilities, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

The owner of the Los Angeles Times has reached a deal to sell the paper to biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, bringing the paper back under local control for the first time in almost two decades. $500 million for the newspaper and the San Diego Union-Tribune, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Physician Soon-Shiong is founder and chief executive of NantHealth, based in Culver City, and No. 1 on the Los Angeles Business Journal's 2017 list of Wealthiest Angelenos.

The Times last month voted to unionize, and other conflicts between the paper and its owner have surfaced in recent months. Soon-Shiong graduated from high school at the age of 16 and got accepted to the medical school at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

The Times just replaced its top editor, the third switch at the position in the newsroom in six months.

Mr Soon-Shiong became a major shareholder in Tronc, formerly called Tribune Publishing, in May 2016 as the company and its chairman, Mr Ferro, tried to fend off a takeover attempt by Gannett, the publisher of USA Today. He is now the executive editor at The New York Times.

Pharmaceuticals billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong waves as he arrives in the lobby of Trump Tower in NY for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in 2016. That same year, Red Sox owner John Henry purchased the Boston Globe and, in 2014, Minnesota billionaire and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor bought the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

In an interview with the Times a year ago, Soon-Shiong acknowledged that as a major stockholder, he was unhappy with the way the Los Angeles Times was being run and felt a need to ensure its survival.

"The L.A. Times Guild looks forward to working with a local owner who can help us preserve The Times as a guardian of our community and as the voice of the American West", came a statement from the newly formed guild. The Copley family had owned the newspaper for its entire run until 2009, when it sold the paper to Los Angeles-based investment firm Platinum Equity.

Tronc said the deal will allow it to follow a more aggressive growth strategy focused on news and digital media. He had briefly served in the job on an interim basis during a management overhaul from August until November, when D'Vorkin joined the paper. A return to local ownership would restore pride at the Times, said veteran media business analyst Ken Doctor.

Times staffers' overall reaction to the news of the reported sale was positive, one reporter in the newsroom tweeted on Tuesday.

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