The Los Angeles Times is being sold to a local billionaire for $500 million, ending its strained tenure under the owner of the Chicago Tribune.
In a statement, Soon-Shiong said, "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 buyer is Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles-area physician and a major shareholder of the paper's former parent company, Tronc.
News of the sale was first on Tuesday afternoon.
The sale of The Los Angeles Times is in keeping with one of two trends in media ownership: big companies getting bigger and wealthy investors taking on newspapers as philanthropic endeavors, said Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute.
In December 2016, Soon-Shiong discussed buying the Los Angeles Times, but Tronc rejected that offer, saying in a subsequent attorney letter that "the only way for (him) to own the LA Times is to acquire the whole company". The newspaper was controlled for much of its history by the Chandler family, before being sold in 2000 to Tribune Co., which was taken over by billionaire Sam Zell in 2007. That deal consists of $30 million in cash and $36 million in newly issued Tronc shares.
Tronc said it would use the sale proceeds to extinguish about $340 million in long-term debt, much of it attributable to the 2014 spinoff when Tribune Co. split into Tribune Media and Tribune Publishing.
The deal includes the purchase of The San Diego Union-Tribune and some other publications and the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities. Soon-Shiong became vice chairman of the board, and his Nant Capital gained a 13 percent stake at the time. Acquisitions will continue to be a big part of its plan, Tronc said Wednesday, and the company announced that it's buying a majority stake in online product review company BestReviews for an undisclosed amount. The publishing unit, later named Tronc, had to pay a $275 million dividend to its broadcast parent company.
Soon-Shiong is the billionaire founder and chief executive of NantHealth, based in Culver City, Calif.
For example, a reader could pan a camera across a physical newspaper and the photos could be turned into video.
"Given that, we'll have to see which Dr. Soon-Shiong shows up in the owner's suite", Kennedy said. "Every page, every picture, every commercial is merely a TV channel activated by the picture itself through machine vision recognition".
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