The beleaguered Los Angeles Times has been sold to billionaire founder of Culver City-based Nanthealth Patrick Soon-Shiong, who purchased the paper for $500 million in cash. In the deal, Soon-Shiong also gained control of The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Included in the deal is $90 million in pension liabilities.
Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn stated: “This transaction allows us to fully repay our outstanding debt, significantly lower our pension liabilities and have a substantial cash position following the close of the transaction.”
Soon-Shiong isn’t new to Tronc. In 2016, when Tronc was still known as Tribune Publishing, Soon-Shiong invested in the company through his private firm Nant Capital LLC, keeping the company from being purchased by Gannett and becoming a major shareholder. He now owns a 3% stake.
Following a tumultuous few months, which saw three editors in chief take the helm in six months; publisher Ross Levinsohn put on unpaid leave after a sexual harassment investigation; and a newly unionized newsroom, parent company Tronc officially hands the titles off. The deal is expected to be complete by the end of this quarter or early next week.
Pending approval, it will close in April.
“The L.A. Times Guild looks forward to working with a local owner who can help us preserve The Times as a guardian of our community and as the voice of the American West,” came a statement from the newly formed guild.
After no wrongdoing was found during an internal investigation, Levinsohn was reinstated. However, he will head a new division, called Tronc Interactive, per the Los Angeles Times.