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Tronc to sell Los Angeles Times to billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million

  • Tronc says it has struck a deal to sell the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune and other titles in the California News Group to billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.
  • The agreement includes $500 million in cash plus the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.
  • The company also says Ross Levinsohn has been reinstated as LA Times CEO. He agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence last month following disclosure of sexual harassment allegations against him while he worked at other companies.

Tronc said Wednesday it has struck a deal to sell the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune and other titles in the California News Group to billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The agreement with Soon-Shiong, a major shareholder in Tronc and chief executive of NantHealth, includes $500 million in cash plus the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.

The company also announced that Ross Levinsohn has been reinstated as LA Times CEO, after he agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence last month following disclosure of sexual harassment allegations against him while he worked at other companies.

Shares of Tronc were up 65 percent in premarket trading prior to being halted ahead of the announcement.

The proceeds of the sale will be used to repay corporate debt and allow for the company to pursue a continued push to acquire complementary digital properties, Tronc said in a statement.

The Times, acquired by Tronc's predecessor Tribune Co. in 2000, has undergone several management changes and rounds of layoffs, reflecting a struggle by newspapers in general to adapt to digital media.

Tronc acquired the San Diego Union-Tribune in May 2015. Its other newspapers include The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant.

CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin and Reuters contributed to this report.