LA Times Sale Uncertainty Sinks Tronc Shares 8 Percent

The deal with billionaire investor Patrick Soon-Shiong is still officially on, but investors are clearly nervous about the delay

Tronc’s stock fell eight percent on Thursday with investors worried that a deal to sell the Los Angles Times to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong isn’t imminent.

On after-hours earnings calls Wednesday, Tronc leadership conceded that both the $500 million deal with Soon-Shiong, as well as a smaller project to unload the stock of ex-chairman Michael Ferro to McCormick Media, had not yet to be completed.

Both deals are still officially in the works, but that was not enough to calm investor fears. After the Wednesday call, the stock slumped from $18.83 a share to 17.28 by end-of-day Thursday. The stock continued to decline in early trading Friday.

A spokesperson for Tronc did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

In recent months, the Los Angeles Times has faced one management crisis after another. First, CEO and publisher Ross Levinsohn was suspended after just six months over a sexual harassment scandal. Editor in chief Lewis D’Vorkin — a Levinsohn hire — was replaced by Jim Kirk in January. Amid the turmoil, the newspaper’s staff also staged a successful effort to unionize in January.

The deal with Soon-Shiong was viewed by many as a respite from these woes, with many speculating that the benevolent billionaire ownership model — like at the Washington Post — was the best direction for the paper to move in.