Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Los Angeles Times sold to billionaire for $500 million

Pedestrians walk past the front of the Los Angeles Times building Los Angeles Times sold to billionaire for $500 million
Russell Knight | 08 February, 2018, 01:05

The San Diego Union-Tribune will soon have a new owner, its fifth in the last decade, with Los Angeles biotech billionare Patrick Soon-Shiong agreeing to purchase the Los Angeles Times and the Union- Tribune from parent company Tronc.

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. As part of the $500 million deal, he will also buy its sister newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Soon-Shiong, 65, is founder and chief executive of "next-generation" healthcare company NantHealth, based in Culver City.

His interest in the paper was formalized in May 2016 when the biotech magnate invested $70.5 million in the newspaper's parent company, then called Tribune Publishing, since changed to Tronc Inc. NPR and the Los Angeles Times itself have also reported on the talks. The paper's publisher had been placed on unpaid leave pending an investigation into sexual harassment allegations, three editors have helmed the Times in the past six months, and the newsroom voted to unionize over management's objections in January.

Soon-Shiong inspires some strong emotions among the investor and life sciences crowd.

Buying Los Angeles Times would be a major step for Soon-Shiong and would result in his profile being upgraded among civic, business and cultural groups.

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Discontent intensified during a staff meeting when Mr D'Vorkin said that anyone involved with leaking a recording of a previous meeting to The New York Times was "morally bankrupt", according to several people in attendance.

Here, Patrick Soon-Shiong during a Urban Economic Forum co-hosted by White House Business Council and U.S. Small Business Administration at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, March. He also has a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, Forbes says.

Gabriel Kahn, professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism, said Soon-Shiong's purchase of the newspaper would be an improvement over the tumult the paper has experienced with Tronc.

The sale comes about a week after veteran Chicago journalist Jim Kirk was named editor in chief to replace Lewis D'Vorkin, whose short tenure was marked by clashes with staff. But recently the newspaper has been upended by internal turmoil.

Those hires sparked fears that the business side would wield undue influence in editorial matters.

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