The company, once known as Tribune Publishing, is close to selling the paper to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles billionaire who - through his umbrella company Nant Capital, LLC - invested $70.5 million in Tronc and joined the company's board in May 2016.
"This transaction allows us to fully repay our outstanding debt, significantly lower our pension liabilities and have a substantial cash position following the close of the transaction", Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in a news release.
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.
The $500 million price tag is twice what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post when he bought that paper in 2013, and more than seven times what Red Sox owner John Henry paid for the Boston Globe that same year. Publisher Ross Levinsohn is on unpaid leave after revelations that he was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits elsewhere.
The announcement Wednesday means that for the first time in 18 years the Times will be under local ownership.
Soon-Shiong, born in South Africa to Chinese parents, has been an investor in Tronc and also owns a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.
The deal includes The San Diego Union-Tribune, various titles in the California News Group and the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities. Soon-Shiong had leveled his own accusations against Tronc and its chairman, saying the company rigged its trading rules to let Ferro increase his stake while denying that option to him.
A representative for Soon-Shiong said he was traveling and could not comment on the purchase.
"I am concerned there are other agendas, independent of the newspaper's needs or the fiduciary obligations to the viability of the organization", he said at the time.
In a piece announcing the sale on its website, the paper adds that it "has long had a strained relationship with its Chicago-based corporate parent". He was replaced by Jim Kirk, the former editor and publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times.
"We find ourselves returning to where we were a century ago when a handful of wealthy owners controlled big, influential newspapers", said Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The LA Times, like many newspapers, has been downsizing its staff as readers turn away from print to online news platforms.
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