Tronc Sold The Los Angeles Times To Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong

The sale comes amid turbulence between Tronc and Times staffers.

The Los Angeles Times’ owner has sold the newspaper to one of its shareholders, the paper confirmed Wednesday.

Tronc Inc., the paper’s former owner, is expected to announce the sale of the Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune to Nant Capital, the investment firm of billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, for almost $500 million in cash, the Times reports.

Reporters at the Times said Tronc and Soon-Shiong are “working furiously to complete the transaction,” in a deal that came together in only five days.

News of the sale comes amid intense upheaval at the Times, where staffers have clashed with management installed by Tronc over the paper’s editorial direction. Last month, journalists at the paper voted to unionize, defying pressure from the publication’s leaders to abandon the effort. 

Soon-Shiong, founder and chief executive of the California-based health care firm NantHealth, has previously been critical of Tronc’s leadership, accusing the company of “poor corporate governance” last year. Rumors began circulating last spring that Soon-Shiong might attempt to buy Tronc or the Times in early 2018.

Overall, the response among Times staffers to the news of the reported sale was positive, one reporter in the newsroom tweeted on Tuesday. 

Soon-Shiong sits on the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and is a contributing editor for The WorldPost, which had a partnership with HuffPost until last year.

The relationship between Tronc and Times staffers grew particularly rocky in recent weeks. Days after the announcement that the union campaign was successful, sources told HuffPost that Tronc was quietly establishing a network of non-union contributors that amounted a shadow newsroom.

Tronc also owns several other papers, including the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and the New York Daily News.

The company rolled out its updated digital growth strategy on Wednesday, with the return of Times CEO Ross Levinsohn as the head of its Times Interactive division. Levinsohn had been placed on unpaid leave last month while Tronc investigated claims of sexual harassment, but the company said it found “no wrongdoing.”

This article has been updated with additional details about the sale and Levinsohn’s status, as well as Soon-Shiong’s affiliation with the Berggruen Institute and The WorldPost.