Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Los Angeles Times to be sold to United States biotech billionaire

Los Angeles Times to be sold to United States biotech billionaire

The agreement between Los Angeles-based medical entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and Tronc Inc. marks the latest instance of a rich, civic-minded individual buying a newspaper from a big corporation.

Should Mr Soon-Shiong succeed in buying the Times, he would take control of a paper with a rich legacy that includes 44 Pulitzer Prizes and deep roots in Los Angeles.

"Given the huge challenges still faced by news publishing in the age of Google/Facebook ad duopoly and still-onrushing digital disruption, even a billionaire has his work cut out for him", Doctor said. He now owns a 3% stake.

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Times staffers' overall reaction to the news of the reported sale was positive, one reporter in the newsroom tweeted on Tuesday. The appointment of Kirk, a veteran newsman, relieved some of the tension stirred up by his predecessor, Lewis D'Vorkin, a former Forbes editor who did little to foster a close working relationship with his journalists.

Tronc said Wednesday that Levinsohn would lead a new division within the company after an independent investigation found "no wrongdoing". "I think they could get a pretty good price".

Soon-Shiong, 65, is founder and chief executive of "next-generation" healthcare company NantHealth, based in Culver City.

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On the same date the union votes were announced, Tronc placed the L.A. Times' publisher, Ross Levinsohn, on an unpaid leave of absence for sexual harassment allegations at previous places of employment.

'We find ourselves returning to where we were a century ago when a handful of wealthy owners controlled big influential newspapers, ' Tompkins said. "Owning a newspaper can be a nice megaphone to promote your interests, and if that is a goal, the price he is willing to pay may not accurately reflect the value of the newspapers".

If the sale goes through, it would cap a chaotic stretch in recent months that's seen departures in the top ranks at the Times, along with a bitter fight between management and journalists over unionization and a proposal to increase contributions from freelancers.

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Tribune eventually declared bankruptcy and the company spun off its publishing arm as Tribune Publishing in 2014, which was later renamed Tronc, for Tribune Online Content. That sparked fears the business side would wield undue influence in editorial matters. It's the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the United States.

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