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Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune Sold to Biotech Billionaire

Patrick Soon-Shiong buys California newspapers from Tronc for $500m in cash, allowing paper to repay outstanding debt

The Los Angeles Times is being sold to a local billionaire for $500m, ending its strained tenure under the owner of the Chicago Tribune.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, a major shareholder of media publisher Tronc, is one of the richest men in Los Angeles and, according to Forbes, the nation’s wealthiest doctor, with a net worth of $7.8bn.

The deal includes the Union-Tribune, various titles in the California News Group, and the assumption of $90m in pension liabilities. The announcement means that for the first time in 18 years the Times will be under local ownership.

Soon-Shiong takes over in a time of turmoil at the paper. The LA Times just replaced its top editor, the third switch at the newsroom’s top job in six months. Publisher Ross Levinsohn is on unpaid leave after revelations that he was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits elsewhere.

Journalists voted last month to unionize for the first time in the paper’s 136-year history.

The sale 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 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250m. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Boston Globe for $70m.

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