Friday, February 19, 2021

Patrick Soon-Shiong Exploring Sale of Company of Los Angeles Times?

L.A. Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon by training (a very wealthy surgeon) denies the story

But here it is, at WSJ, "Los Angeles Times Owner Exploring Sale of Company":

Billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong is exploring a sale of the Los Angeles Times less than three years after buying it for $500 million, people familiar with the matter said.

The move marks an abrupt about-face for Mr. Soon-Shiong, who had vowed to restore stability to the West Coast news institution and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the paper in an effort to turn it around.

When Mr. Soon-Shiong acquired the Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a handful of weeklies from Tribune Publishing Co. TPCO +0.00% , then called Tronc Inc., in 2018, it was met with great fanfare from staff and media watchers after years of turmoil and downsizing at the publications. At the time, he said that the sale represented the beginning of a new era and that he intended to do what it took to make the business viable for the next 100 years.

He has since grown dissatisfied with the news organization’s slow expansion of its digital audience and its substantial losses, the people said. He also has increasingly come to believe that the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune—together known as the California Times company—would be better served if they were part of a larger media group, they said.

Mr. Soon-Shiong has been heavily focused on efforts by his immunotherapy company to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and has had little time to devote to the Times, people familiar with the matter said. “Covid really brought him back to the lab,” said one of the people.

Mr. Soon-Shiong didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment and a spokeswoman for the Times had no immediate comment...

So, no comment from the newspaper's owner of spokeswoman?  

I'll bet there really is some "dissatisfaction" over in El Segundo, where Mr. Soon-Shiong moved the paper shortly after his acquisition a few years back.

One thing, though, despite his protestations on the accuracy of WSJ's reporting, I see enough tweets from L.A. Times journalists to know that it's definitely up-and-down at L.A.'s last remaining "broadsheet" newspaper. 

And since I'm a subscriber, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled, as I'd hate to have to rely on the New York Times for the occasional local story, like the one a couple of weeks ago, on the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital.

We'll see. We'll see.