Soon-Shiong: Why I'm investing $70.5M in Tribune

Billionaire Soon-Shiong invests in Tribune
Billionaire Soon-Shiong invests in Tribune

The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune are national treasures that are ready to be taken to the next generation, Tribune Publishing's newest investor Patrick Soon-Shiong said Tuesday.

The L.A. billionaire has agreed to invest $70.5 million in the publishing company, Tribune announced Monday. At the same time, the company, which owns several newspapers across the country, rejected a second takeover bid from USA Today owner Gannett.

"This is the opportunity to actually transform this newspaper world into this next generation for this next millennium who wants to see the information on any device, any time, all the time," Soon-Shiong said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Soon-Shiong, through his fund Nant Capital, will become Tribune's second-largest shareholder, holding about 12.9 percent. He is set to join the publisher's board as vice chairman on June 2.

The South African–born surgeon is also part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and founder of NantWorks, a network of health information and pharma companies.

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Soon-Shiong said he is ready to bring his background of building artificial intelligence in the health-care world into the newspaper world.

"We built tools which are called machine vision. They can enable, through our studio … the integration of data," which will bring together editors and reporters and create a completely new news network, he said.

And he's completely confident the traditional media company can succeed in the digital marketplace when others have failed.

"The whole concept of creating a national footprint and taking a whole new model, where you integrate through fiber infrastructure and through cloud computing and you centralize a news network but actually take local news and bring it in on a daily real-time basis, I don't think that has really been tried on a newspaper level across this nation," said Soon-Shiong.

Tribune shares plummeted after the news of his investment and the rejected bid of Gannett, closing down 15 percent Monday and trading lower for a second day Tuesday.

Reuters contributed to this report.