4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Look out, Union-Tribune. Alden Global Capital may be just around the corner.

Analyst speculates Soon-Shiong could bail out by mid-summer

Henry Ji's suit alleges that Soon-Shiong's NantPharma did a "catch-and-kill."
Henry Ji's suit alleges that Soon-Shiong's NantPharma did a "catch-and-kill."

Will a lawsuit spawned in San Diego by the wheeling and dealings of Patrick Soon-Shiong ultimately force the Los Angeles billionaire to divest himself of the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as the L.A. Times as early as this summer?

So goes a theory of Poynter Institute Media Analyst Rick Edmunds in an March 4 online dispatch regarding the trials and tribulations of Soon-Shiong and his Southern California papers.

Alden Global Capital appears to be "the most likely to win any bidding contest for the Los Angeles Times, along with the San Diego Union-Tribune and some real estate," says Edmunds in light of mounting speculation that Soon-Shiong may need the cash.

"A tipster pointed me to a $1 billion suit Sorrento Therapeutics brought against Soon-Shiong's NantPharma in April 2019," writes Edmunds. Biotech Sorrento was founded here in 2006 by Henry Ji, who got his undergrad training at China's Fudan University and a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

A 2015 drug deal by Soon-Shiong's NantPharma is at the root of the ongoing courtroom clash, which began in 2019. "The suit alleges that Nant did a 'catch-and-kill' when it took a majority stake in a promising drug of Sorrento's, then stopped its development," notes Edmunds.

"Soon-Shiong's true purpose, the suit charges, was to clear the way for developing a similar drug NanPharma had in the works." Mandatory arbitration begins July 22, the columnist says.

"Even a settlement at a fraction of the damages Sorrento seeks could run to hundreds of millions of dollars. That would leave Soon-Shiong hungry for cash at a time when he is also funding expensive initiatives at his biotech company."

Then there is the not insubstantial matter of finding newspaper talent to run the Times. "Particularly telling is that Soon-Shiong has never hired a publisher with industry experience. He essentially fulfills that role himself while still tending to entrepreneurial biotech work and trying to invent cancer treatments and now Covid-19 drugs."

"Given the circumstances, and the time and money a next stage would require, it seems more likely Soon-Shiong will exit, likely swallowing a loss on his $600 million in investments in the Times."

Meanwhile, down in San Diego, Soon-Shiong's strategy has appeared to be converting the U-T into the wokest paper in America while reducing advertising and daily page counts.

Enter Alden Global Capital, the industry bad-boy that has been snapping up newspapers across the country, vowing to remake the businesses but often selling off premises and gutting staff.

"Alden CEO Heath Freeman and founder Randall Smith have become known as grim reapers as they pull profits from titles like the Denver Post," writes Edmunds.

"Alden are cost-cutters supreme, but Freeman and Smith clearly also know how to wage a relentless takeover campaign and drive a hard bargain."

"Most promising financially for Alden would be control of the Los Angeles Times, a ring of suburban dailies near Los Angeles, the Orange County Register (which it already owns), and the San Diego Union-Tribune (which comes with the Times). That would amount to control of the huge Southern California market, with half the megastate's 40 million residents."

Anti-trust resistance from the Biden Administration might interrupt Alden's best-laid plans to control Southern California. Alden owns the dailies in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, where the U-T has recently ventured with a two-page experimental news and events section.

Local resistance from San Diego labor unions and would-be advertisers to the putative buyout might ultimately deter Alden from bidding, but the U-T, whose workers long-ago bid farewell to their newspaper union, has so far attracted few outspoken champions.

And the U-T's fate appears inextricably linked to that of the Times, which prints the San Diego paper in L.A. at a plant whose lease by Soon-Shiong is due to expire in just two years.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

San Diego in books - first Datsun dealer to sell 100 cars in a month, Bob Woodward on Belushi

La Jolla's historian, Edmund Wilson on the Hotel del Coronado
Next Article

Jimmy’s Santee Stroganoff

“People have been coming in for years. They know what they like.”
Henry Ji's suit alleges that Soon-Shiong's NantPharma did a "catch-and-kill."
Henry Ji's suit alleges that Soon-Shiong's NantPharma did a "catch-and-kill."

Will a lawsuit spawned in San Diego by the wheeling and dealings of Patrick Soon-Shiong ultimately force the Los Angeles billionaire to divest himself of the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as the L.A. Times as early as this summer?

So goes a theory of Poynter Institute Media Analyst Rick Edmunds in an March 4 online dispatch regarding the trials and tribulations of Soon-Shiong and his Southern California papers.

Alden Global Capital appears to be "the most likely to win any bidding contest for the Los Angeles Times, along with the San Diego Union-Tribune and some real estate," says Edmunds in light of mounting speculation that Soon-Shiong may need the cash.

"A tipster pointed me to a $1 billion suit Sorrento Therapeutics brought against Soon-Shiong's NantPharma in April 2019," writes Edmunds. Biotech Sorrento was founded here in 2006 by Henry Ji, who got his undergrad training at China's Fudan University and a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

A 2015 drug deal by Soon-Shiong's NantPharma is at the root of the ongoing courtroom clash, which began in 2019. "The suit alleges that Nant did a 'catch-and-kill' when it took a majority stake in a promising drug of Sorrento's, then stopped its development," notes Edmunds.

"Soon-Shiong's true purpose, the suit charges, was to clear the way for developing a similar drug NanPharma had in the works." Mandatory arbitration begins July 22, the columnist says.

"Even a settlement at a fraction of the damages Sorrento seeks could run to hundreds of millions of dollars. That would leave Soon-Shiong hungry for cash at a time when he is also funding expensive initiatives at his biotech company."

Then there is the not insubstantial matter of finding newspaper talent to run the Times. "Particularly telling is that Soon-Shiong has never hired a publisher with industry experience. He essentially fulfills that role himself while still tending to entrepreneurial biotech work and trying to invent cancer treatments and now Covid-19 drugs."

"Given the circumstances, and the time and money a next stage would require, it seems more likely Soon-Shiong will exit, likely swallowing a loss on his $600 million in investments in the Times."

Meanwhile, down in San Diego, Soon-Shiong's strategy has appeared to be converting the U-T into the wokest paper in America while reducing advertising and daily page counts.

Enter Alden Global Capital, the industry bad-boy that has been snapping up newspapers across the country, vowing to remake the businesses but often selling off premises and gutting staff.

"Alden CEO Heath Freeman and founder Randall Smith have become known as grim reapers as they pull profits from titles like the Denver Post," writes Edmunds.

"Alden are cost-cutters supreme, but Freeman and Smith clearly also know how to wage a relentless takeover campaign and drive a hard bargain."

"Most promising financially for Alden would be control of the Los Angeles Times, a ring of suburban dailies near Los Angeles, the Orange County Register (which it already owns), and the San Diego Union-Tribune (which comes with the Times). That would amount to control of the huge Southern California market, with half the megastate's 40 million residents."

Anti-trust resistance from the Biden Administration might interrupt Alden's best-laid plans to control Southern California. Alden owns the dailies in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, where the U-T has recently ventured with a two-page experimental news and events section.

Local resistance from San Diego labor unions and would-be advertisers to the putative buyout might ultimately deter Alden from bidding, but the U-T, whose workers long-ago bid farewell to their newspaper union, has so far attracted few outspoken champions.

And the U-T's fate appears inextricably linked to that of the Times, which prints the San Diego paper in L.A. at a plant whose lease by Soon-Shiong is due to expire in just two years.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Mainly Mozart's masterful melange

A consistent level of musical excellence that is unrivaled anywhere
Next Article

Everyone has a spot at the rail

San Diego, home of the world’s largest live bait sportfishing fleet.
Comments
3

Patrick Soon-Shiong could shutter the costly weak-sister San Diego Union-Tribune; salvage a few strong Watchdog journalists and set them up as the San Diego Bureau of the Los Angeles Times, as in the olden days. Then he could name SoCal native, highly qualified and long-experienced U-T editor Jeff Light as editor of the Los Angeles Times. That's two problems solved, but Soon-Shiong will have to figure out how to make the LAT profitable on his own. Since March is Women's month, maybe he could turn to his smart wife and daughter for answers.

March 9, 2021

The sad, shrunken U-T is a ghost of what a real big-city daily ought to be. But SD isn't the first city to have its flagship paper waste away. Many have gone away already and more will follow. But what are the prospects for the Times? It appears to be struggling. More and more advertisers abandon the papers, the revenue shrinks, and the paper shrinks staff and reporting. Circulation drops, etc. It's called circling the drain.

March 10, 2021
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
April 21, 2021

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close