Billionaire media proprietor Patrick Soon-Shiong has sold the San Diego Union-Tribune (U-T) to competing local newspaper company MediaNews Group for an undisclosed amount.
MediaNews Group’s announcement: The sale, which was reportedly finalized on Monday, was lauded by the MediaNews Group as an opportunity to “advance its stewardship in California as the largest provider of news and information across the state,” according to Sharon Ryan, executive vice president for California for MediaNews Group.
The MediaNews Group is owned by New York investment firm Alden Global Capital. Also known as Digital First Media, the company reportedly owns hundreds of weekly newspapers and dozens of daily newspapers, including the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Los Angeles Daily News.
Newsroom cuts: According to Ryan, layoffs in the U-T newsroom are likely.
“The U-T will also need to make some difficult staffing decisions as we assume management. Reductions will be necessary to offset the slowdown in revenues as economic headwinds continue to impact the media industry,” Ryan said, adding that the company will offer buyouts “in an effort for staff reductions to be voluntary.”
Soon-Shiong’s statement: The sale brings Soon-Shiong’s holdings to one news organization — the Los Angeles Times, the largest newsroom in the western U.S.
“Our intention now is to focus on the ongoing work of transforming the L.A. Times into a self-sustaining institution. Our hometown of Los Angeles and the state of California — really, the West Coast — needs a strong, independent news organization,” Soon-Shiong said. “We believe in the L.A. Times and are committed to its future.”
About Soon-Shiong: Soon-Shiong and his family bought the Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times for $500 million in June 2018.
Besides being a media proprietor, the South Afrian-born Soon-Shiong is a transplant surgeon and a bioscientist. He invented the drug Abraxane, which is known for its efficacy against pancreatic cancer. Soon-Shiong reportedly sold two drug companies — Abraxis in 2010 and American Pharmaceutical Partners in 2008 — for a combined $9.1 billion.