Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire who earned his fortune in the biotech field, will officially take full control of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday when the $500 million sale is completed and Soon-Shiong becomes executive chairman of the California News Group.
The deal, which was reported in February, will return the two historic publications back to local ownership after what the Times itself described on Saturday as “18 turbulent years under Chicago control” (i.e. the Chicago-based Tribune Media Company).
Soon-Shiong also owns a 4.5% stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. He also reportedly has a passion for seeing medical advancements, particularly in the area of cancer.
Soon-Shiong, 65, was born in South Africa and educated at the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, at the time one of the finest medical schools in the world. He reportedly amassed his $7.5 billion fortune by building and then selling two biopharmaceutical companies, and has since then “been on a mission to personalize cancer treatment and develop vaccinations for deadly diseases.”
Soon-Shiong penned a letter to the publications’ readers on Sunday in which he wrote that he is “honored and privileged to assume the mantle of these storied institutions of democracy. To me, this is the culmination of an immigrant’s American Dream.”
I believe that fake news is the cancer of our times and social media the vehicles for metastasis. Institutions like The Times and the Union-Tribune are more vital than ever. They must be bastions of editorial integrity and independence if they are to protect our democracy and provide an antidote to disinformation. We will continue our papers’ dedication to truth, integrity, journalistic independence, and storytelling that engages, informs, educates and inspires with care and compassion.
Dr. Soon-Shiong’s entire letter to the public can be read here.
The Koch brothers were once said to be interested in purchasing the Times but were opposed by protests.