Tronc Inc.’s two largest shareholders have been actively increasing their stakes in the Los Angeles Times parent, a month after Gannett Co.’s attempted acquisition fell apart.
While Michael Ferro, tronc’s chairman and largest shareholder, purchased an additional 42,126 shares, a more interesting series of purchases came from Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Soon-Shiong, who was brought into the company by Ferro this summer and took a $70 million stake to become its second-largest shareholder, added steadily to his holdings throughout November, including more than 84,000 shares at prices of $12.90 and $12.94 on Nov. 23, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The acquisitions bring his stake to more than 5.6 million shares, according to data from Bloomberg, giving the multibillionaire biotech researcher a roughly 15.5 percent stake in tronc.
The most recent acquisitions come less than a week after Soon-Shiong, who with a net worth estimated at $15.4 billion is the wealthiest person in Los Angeles, acquired nearly 65,000 shares in purchases on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 at prices of $12.85 and $12.75.
Ferro still controls about 800,000 more shares than Soon-Shiong, tronc’s vice chairman. And unless Soon-Shiong makes a big, dramatic move, it is likely that Ferro will continue to control the company’s destiny, and with it the future of the Times.
Though there has been much speculation that Soon-Shiong wants to buy the paper, he has remained mum on the matter as of late.
Representatives for Soon-Shiong and Ferro declined to comment on the purchases.
Tronc shares fell slightly on Dec. 1 to close at $12.78.
‘Ballers’ Bounces to L.A.
HBO’s “Ballers” will move production for its third season to Los Angeles from Miami, according Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission.
“Ballers” is the seventh series to be drawn to the state by an expanded tax credit program, which went into effect last year. The show is scheduled to shoot its next 10 episodes in the L.A. area, where it will employ 135 cast members, 209 base crew, and 5,700 extras. Production will generate an estimated $33.5 million in “qualified expenditures,” which the commission defines as wages paid to below-the-line crew, and payments to in-state vendors. Based on those figures, “Ballers” has been conditionally approved for a tax credit reservation of $8.3 million.
“In evaluating the production resources and (the show’s) evolving storylines, the producers have decided to relocate the base of production to California,” an HBO spokeswoman said in a statement.
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