Tronc selling LA Times to billionaire investor Patrick Soon-Shiong

Last Updated Feb 7, 2018 12:03 PM EST

Biotech billionaire and physician Patrick Soon-Shiong is buying the Los Angeles Times from Tronc, its Chicago-based parent, in a $500 million deal that brings back local ownership to the 136-year-old newspaper.

Tronc on Wednesday announced the sale of the Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong's investment firm, Nant Capital, for about $500 million in cash and the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.

The agreement could resolve several issues for Tronc, which also owns the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News. Editorial employees at the Times in January voted to unionize, and pushed Tronc to oust Lewis D'Vorkin as the paper's editor-in-chief.

Shares of the media company on Wednesday jumped to a more than three-year high, and recently were up 26 percent at $22.88.

Soon-Shiong became a major investor about 18 months ago, and has been an outspoken critic of the way Tronc has run the Times. 

Born in South Africa to Chinese parents, the 65-year-old doctor and part owner of the LA Lakers moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s, working his residency at the UCLA Medical School. 

He was a successful surgeon for years before turning to developing a cancer-fighting drug, Abraxane. Forbes Magazine, which estimates his worth at $7.8 billion, dubbed him "America's Richest doctor."