A biotech billionaire from L.A. is reportedly getting closer to a $500-million deal to purchase two major newspapers from the Chicago-based Tronc: San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
Under the deal, TheTimes would return to its initial owner after 18 years. The newspaper will also be able to part ways with Tronc, after a tumultuous relationship.
On Tuesday afternoon, the agreement had not been reached, but a positive announcement could be released Wednesday. People familiar with the matter said both sides were tirelessly working to ink the deal as soon as possible.
The sources refused to be identified as the negotiations are not public. It is unclear if Mr. Patrick Soon-Shiong will be able to buy the two newspapers as the deal could be killed at any time. Tronc refused to reply to a request for comment.
Billionaire Doctor Is Tronc’s Second Largest Shareholder
The company will use the $500 million from the deal to get rid of its debt, revamp its digital newspapers, and buy other media organizations. Tronc’s portfolio include The LA Times, Baltimore Sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Chicago Tribune, and Orlando Sentinel.
- Dr. Soon-Shiong also happens to be the second largest shareholder of the company he is now negotiating with.
- The 65-year-old doctor’s net worth is estimated at $7.8 billion.
- If he manages to buy LA Times, he could see his business profile undergo a major makeover in a city where he is one of the richest men.
It is not the first time the billionaire tries to purchase The LA Times. In 2017, he negotiated with Tronc the buyout but without success. Soon-Shiong has often publicly battled the company’s largest shareholder, Michael Ferro, who chairs the company.
The Times’ newsroom confirmed that they heard too that the newspaper is about to be sold. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the publication on Twitter and expressed hopes his “hometown paper” would succeed.
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