Tronc Inc has agreed to sell the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and some other newspapers to billionaire investor Patrick Soon-Shiong for US$500 million in cash, Reuters reports.
The LA Times, acquired by Tronc’s predecessor Tribune Co in 2000, has undergone several management changes and rounds of layoffs, reflecting a struggle by legacy titles in general to adapt to digital media.
Tribune Co spun off its newspaper assets in 2014 as Tribune Publishing, which in 2016 renamed itself as Tronc, short for “Tribune Online Content”
Soon-Shiong, a South African-born surgeon and part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, currently owns about 3 percent of the company.
After the latest deal, Tronc will still own some prominent media titles, including the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Baltimore Sun and the Orlando Sentinel.
The publications being divested brought in about US$470 million in net revenue for the twelve-month period ended September 2017, according to the Reuters report.
“This transaction allows us to fully repay our outstanding debt, significantly lower our pension liabilities and have a substantial cash position following the close of the transaction,” Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in a statement.
The deal is expected to close in the late first quarter or early second quarter of this year.
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