Local billionaire buys Los Angeles Times for $500 million


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A biotech billionaire struck a $500 million deal today to buy the Los Angeles Times, ending the paper's quarrelsome relationship with its Chicago-based corporate overseers and bringing it under local ownership for the first time in 18 years.

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

Soon-Shiong, 65, amassed his fortune in part by developing a cancer drug in 1991. He was already a major shareholder in Tronc, one of the richest men in Los Angeles and the nation's wealthiest doctor by Forbes' estimate, with a net worth put at $7.8 billion.

The deal includes the purchase of The San Diego Union-Tribune and some other publications and the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.

Soon-Shiong takes over at a time of turmoil at the paper. The Times just replaced its top editor, the third such switch in six months, and publisher Ross Levinsohn had been on unpaid leave after it was learned he was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits elsewhere. Tronc said he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Also, journalists voted last month to unionize for the first time in the paper's 136-year history.

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

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