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|February 20, 2019|
LA Times turning to a fresh page under new ownership?
LOS ANGELES - Biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has agreed to purchase the Los Angeles Times from its parent company Tronc, restoring local ownership and perhaps ending a turbulent period for the storied 136-year-old institution.
Chicago-based Tronc on Wednesday announced the sale of The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong's investment firm Nant Capital for nearly $500 million in cash. In addition to the purchase price, the deal includes the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.
"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," Soon-Shiong said in a statement.
Tronc also announced that it will form a new division called Tribune Interactive, which will be led by Los Angeles Times Publisher Ross Levinsohn. The company said that an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at previous companies found "no wrongdoing" by Levinsohn, who has been on unpaid leave since Jan. 19.
The sale, which is expected to close in April, comes after a particularly stormy period for the newspaper, which has seen three editors in six months, its publisher placed on unpaid leave amid a sexual harassment investigation, and a historic vote to unionize the newsroom.
The deal came together quickly, over the last five days, and took many observers by surprise. Tronc had fended off previous efforts to buy the company outright or peel off the California newspapers. Tronc had insisted that The Times was key to its growth strategy given its proximity to Hollywood, technology hubs and the Pacific Rim.
Soon-Shiong, one of Los Angeles' wealthiest residents and a minority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, became the latest billionaire to throw a lifeline to a major newspaper. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013. That same year, Red Sox owner John Henry scooped up the Boston Globe and, in 2014, Minnesota billionaire and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor bought the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The nearly $500-million price tag represents a premium for the struggling media properties. Traditional publications have fallen out of favor on Wall Street amid plummeting print advertising revenue. Marketers have been steering their ad dollars to Facebook, Google, Snapchat and other sites and away from magazines and newspapers.
Story Date: February 13, 2018