Tronc on Wednesday said 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.
Shares of Tronc were up 65 percent in premarket trading prior to being halted ahead of the announcement.
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 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, the company 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.
The newspaper’s publisher and CEO, Ross Levinsohn, 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 acquired the San Diego Union-Tribune in May 2015. Its other newspapers include the Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant.
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—CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and Reuters contributed to this report.