The Los Angeles Times is being sold to a local billionaire for USD500 million, opening a new chapter for the 136-year-old newspaper’s staff after an outright rebellion against the current owner.
Dr. Patrick Soon- Shiong is a major shareholder of Chicago’s Tronc Inc., one of the richest men in Los Angeles and, according to Forbes, the nation’s wealthiest doctor, with a net worth of USD7.8 billion.
The deal includes The San Diego Union-Tribune, various titles in the California News Group and the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.
The transaction could solve two problems for Tronc, which also owns the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News. A new owner could appease the Times’ editorial workers, who voted last month to unionize and pressured Tronc into replacing editor-in-chief Lewis D’Vorkin. And a deal could end a standoff with Soon-Shiong, who had a public falling-out with Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro.
Shares of Chicago-based Tronc surged as much as 37 percent to $24.74, their highest since July 2014.
The sale puts another major metropolitan paper in the hands of a billionaire who may be willing to stomach the industry’s advertising freefall to support local journalism. Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post in 2013, and John Henry agreed to buy the Boston Globe the same year.
The sale of the Times, one of the largest newspapers in Tronc’s portfolio, is a setback in the media company’s plan to develop a national network of multimedia production built on the foundation of some of the country’s most storied media brands.
Soon-Shiong, 65, made his $8.6 billion fortune with the sale of two drug companies and owns part of the Los Angeles Lakers. MDT/Agencies