Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong might be looking to sell the paper, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal claims that Soon-Shiong has “grown dissatisfied” with some elements of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune businesses, collectively known as the California Times Company, which he purchased for $500 million in 2018.
According to the sources, the biotech billionaire is particularly frustrated at the slow rate of growth in online subscribers to the Times, and the significant financial losses racked up by the publications. They report that Soon-Shiong has expressed that the papers might do better if they were owned by some larger media group or entity.
Shortly after the article’s publication, Soon-Shiong took to Twitter to say he intends to stick by the Times–at least for now.
“WSJ article inaccurate. We are committed to the [Los Angeles Times],” Soon-Shiong tweeted on Friday afternoon.
A statement from a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times adds that the current owners intend to “continue to invest in and plan for the future of the Los Angeles Times, and do not plan to sell.”
The phrasing of that tweet and statement may mean there is no sale under consideration whatsoever–or they could leave open the possibility that Soon-Shiong’s team is exploring a sale of just the San Diego Union-Tribune. Other options might include bringing on a new, significant investor to partner with the existing ownership in some capacity.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Wall Street Journal issued a statement of his own to the Los Angeles Times: “We are aware of Dr. Soon-Shiong’s tweet. We are confident in our reporting and will continue to follow this developing story.”
Either way, the report could complicate the Times‘ search for a new executive editor, which is currently underway. The paper’s previous executive editor, Norman Pearlstine, left the post last December.
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