Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Tronc selling LA Times to billionaire investor Patrick Soon-Shiong

Brian Madeux starts to receive the first human gene editing therapy for Hunter syndrome as his girl Brian Madeux starts to receive the first human gene editing therapy for Hunter syndrome as his girl
Cristina Norman | 08 February, 2018, 00:48

Nant Capital will assume US$90 million in pension liabilities in the deal, expected to close in the late first quarter or early second quarter of 2018.

Tronc, formerly known as the Tribune Co., owns the Chicago Tribune and several other US newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News.

With the newspaper industry thrown into deep turmoil by the internet, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million.

Tronc plans to use the $500 million it will receive to repay the company's outstanding debt, in addition to reducing its pension liabilities and bolstering its cash position.

Tronc said the sale will allow the Chicago company to follow a more aggressive growth strategy focused on news and digital media. "We have a pipeline of robust opportunities and (mergers and acquisitions) will continue to be a significant part of our future". A spokesman for Soon-Shiong did not respond to requests for comment. It said it is buying a majority stake in online product review company BestReviews for an undisclosed amount.

Soon-Shiong's Nant Capital made a $70.5 million investment in Tronc in 2016, a move seen then as an attempt by Ferro to fend off a hostile takeover by Gannett.

Both the Times and Union-Tribune have gone through a rocky period-the Times with three editors in less than six months, and the Union-Tribune operating under four owners in the last decade. Publisher Ross Levinsohn is on unpaid leave after revelations that he was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits elsewhere.

Tronc said an independent investigation did not find any wrongdoing. Tronc agreed at the time to license technology from Soon-Shiong's company.

Tronc had $185 million in cash at the end of the third quarter.

The Times, acquired by Tronc's predecessor Tribune Co.in 2000, has undergone several management changes and rounds of layoffs, reflecting a struggle by newspapers in general to adapt to digital media. There have been calls for a return to local ownership among Times staffers and community leaders throughout the past 18 years. The Times has had eight different publishers under Tribune-Tronc ownership.

In an interview with the Times past year, Soon-Shiong declined to say if he planned to buy the newspaper, although he acknowledged that as a major stockholder he was unhappy with the way it was being run and felt a need to ensure its survival.

In addition to his purchase of the California papers, Soon-Shiong is also chief executive of healthcare tech company NantHealth and holds a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.

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