Biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong on Monday will take control of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, two historic newspapers rooted in Southern California civic life for more than 135 years — that now must adapt for the digital age.
Soon-Shiong is spending $500 million to acquire the news organizations, along with Spanish-language Hoy and a handful of community newspapers, from Chicago-based Tronc. The deal, which was announced Feb. 7, returns The Times to local ownership after 18 turbulent years under Chicago control.
Changes will be felt almost immediately. Soon-Shiong, who will become executive chairman of the California News Group, plans to relocate most of the 800 employees to El Segundo by the end of July, vacating the paper’s iconic Art Deco headquarters in downtown Los Angeles — The Times’ home since 1935.
Previous corporate owners two years ago had sold the building, and the paper’s lease expires June 30. Rather than pay a substantial rent increase, Soon-Shiong opted to shift the operation to a building near Los Angeles International Airport that he bought last year. The building was gutted, and during the last three months, Soon-Shiong and his wife, Michele B. Chan, have spent millions of dollars creating a 21st century newsroom that encourages collaboration. (Some local government reporters will remain downtown.)
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