Biotech billionaire agrees to purchase San Diego Union-Tribune, L.A. Times

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Union-Tribune announced Wednesday biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has agreed to purchase their newspaper and Los Angeles Times parent company Tronc.

“Chicago-based Tronc on Wednesday will announce the sale of The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong’s investment firm Nant Capital for nearly $500 million in cash, according to a source familiar with the deal. In addition to the purchase price, the deal includes the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities,” according to the U-T.

Tronc was working to sell Soon-Shiong the paper it has owned since 2015 as part of a broader deal that will include the sale of the Los Angeles Times. Tronc, previously known as Tribune Co., purchased The Times in 2000.

The Times’ newsroom has been in turmoil in recent weeks. A new editor, Jim Kirk, was named in late January following rising concern by staffers over the direction of newsroom management and concerns about the blurring of the line between the news and business departments. Kirk replaced Lewis D’Vorkin, who was moved to the position of chief content for digital and mobile customers.

The paper’s publisher, Ross Levinsohn, was placed on unpaid leave following revelations he was a defendant in two sexual harassment suits while working at other companies prior to joining The Times.

Most notably, newsroom staffers voted overwhelmingly last month to unionize for the first time in the paper’s 136-year history.

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