The Los Angeles Times, the largest newspaper in the West, is returning to local ownership after two tumultuous decades under the Chicago-based Tribune and Tronc brands.
Nearly $500 million in cash by billionaire L.A. resident Patrick Soon-Shiong is the final price tag for both the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, reports The Washington Post.
The deal includes $90 million in pension liabilities for the paper’s staffers over the years. This acquisition comes after many conflict-filled years at the downtown office, including going through five different publishers in just four years and the recent historic vote to unionize by their employees.
The newsroom reportedly responded with applause and cheering.
Cheers, claps, screams going through the @latimes newsroom as word spreads.
— Joel Rubin (@joelrubin) February 6, 2018
Their newly formed union, the L.A. Times Guild, tweeted a convivial statement about the purchase.
— L.A. Times Guild 🦅 (@latguild) February 7, 2018
Others, like arts and culture reporter Carolina A. Miranda, are hoping that Soon-Shiong has a clean slate at least.
Can everyone wait 24 hours before posting terrible stories about Patrick Soon-Shiong? Thx. K. Bai.
— Carolina A. Miranda (@cmonstah) February 6, 2018
Soon-Shiong, 65, is a surgeon who was born in South Africa to Chinese immigrants. He made his wealth in the biotech industry, including an anti-cancer startup named NantHealthy, and he already owned a 26 percent stake in Tronc. In his free time, he likes to play basketball.
Forbes called him “America’s Richest Doctor” and estimates that he is currently worth $7.8 billion. In a profile published earlier today in the L.A. Times Business section, he stated that he wanted to “save the integrity” of the publication.
The deal coincides with an unrelated announcement of the formation of Tronc Interactive, a new division to be focused on business. It also reveals that Ross Levinsohn, former publisher, and C.E.O. of the L.A. Times, will be spearheading that project as their chief executive. That decision comes after he was placed on paid leave amidst sexual harassment allegations against him and an independent investigation found him innocent of committing any wrongdoing.