LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Billionaire physician and investor Patrick Soon-Shiong agreed on Wednesday to buy the Los Angeles Times, in a move aimed at reviving the fortunes of the newspaper amid recent turmoil.
Publishing group Tronc Inc. said it reached a deal to sell the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong’s Nant Capital for $500 million plus the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.
The move comes after months of newsroom unrest at the storied Los Angeles daily that has seen three editors in the past six months, and a vote to unionize the journalists.
“We are pleased to transition leadership of the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune to local ownership, and we are certain that the journalistic excellence in Southern California will continue long into the future,” said Justin Dearborn, chief executive of Tronc, the name adopted for the group previously known as Tribune Publishing.
Mr Soon-Shiong, a surgeon whose biotech investments have boosted his net worth to some $7.8 billion, said in a statement: “We look forward to continuing the great tradition of award-winning journalism carried out by the reporters and editors of the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune and the other California News Group titles.”
The LA Times, like many newspapers, has been downsizing its staff as readers turn away from print to online news platforms.
The Los Angeles daily was family-owned for more than a century.