Shares of Tribune Publishing Co. (TPUB) tumbled Monday after the owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers rejected a second takeover bid from Gannett (GCI), which owns USA Today and other publications. Last week, Gannett had upped its offer to $15 per share from $12.25 but Tribune Publishing called the offer “clearly inadequate” in a statement and expressed “serious doubts about Gannett’s ability to enter into a transaction,” citing to its approximate $650 million pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liability.
Earlier Monday, Tribune Publishing also announced a $70.5 million capital investment from Nant Capital, which was founded by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. Tribune issued 4.7 million shares of common stock to Nant Capital at $15 per share, ironically the same level of Gannett’s “grossly inadequate” second offer.
So who is Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong? In a 2013 cover story entitled Who’s the Richest Guy in L.A.?, Fortune described him as “as a pioneering transplant surgeon at UCLA in the 1980s, a widely published researcher, and the inventor of the cancer drug Abraxane,” adding:
In 1998, Soon-Shiong cobbled together loans to buy a struggling generic drugmaker. He turned the company around, used the profits to develop Abraxane, preserved his equity, and cashed out a decade later with two spectacular deals that catapulted him into the upper reaches of the American plutocracy.
With wealth has come a measure of fame, at least locally. He bought a piece of the Lakers in 2010 — Magic Johnson’s 4.5% — and so gained a seat (four, actually) on L.A.’s most visible celebrity perch: courtside at the Staples Center. He made a very public run at the Dodgers last year and another at Philip Anschutz’s global sports and entertainment conglomerate, AEG; both fell short but garnered lots of press. He and his wife, former TV actress Michele Chan, are L.A.’s newest A-list philanthropists. They’re signatories to Warren Buffett’s giving pledge, sustainers of the tony St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica (the Soon-Shiongs outrank Johnny Carson and everybody else on the lobby donor plaque), and rescuers of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in south L.A.
In March 2015, Soon-Shiong was named CEO of the Los Angeles-based cancer research firm, NantKwest (NK), which went public in July 2015. The IPO priced at $25 per share—above its expected range—and opened at $37 but has fallen over 80% from its opening price. Still, Soon-Shiong was one of the highest-paid CEOs in corporate America last year, raking in a whopping $147.6 million.