1. PATRICK SOON-SHIONG
THE MONEY: The billionaire physician gave the Business Journal unprecedented insight into his holdings, including the more than $8 billion valuation of his NantWorks health care empire in Culver City, a figure reached based on outside investments from Blackstone Group, Celgene Corp., Amgen Inc., and the Kuwait Investment Authority, among others. Soon-Shiong owns 85 percent of the company and plans to merge its disparate businesses, including NantBioscience, NantOmics, and NantCell, into a new entity called NantBio and take it public next year. He made his fortune selling pharma firms American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis BioScience for more than $9 billion. The higher valuation for his private companies more than offsets the losses suffered by his public holdings amid the biotech slump.
THE BUZZ: Rumors abound that Soon-Shiong wants to own the Los Angeles Times, with the doctor concerned that its current corporate leadership could degrade the trophy newspaper. He has poured more than $117 million into shares of Times parent tronc Inc. since May, becoming its second-largest shareholder, with a nearly 27 percent stake. Soon-Shiong is engaged in an ownership battle with tronc’s largest shareholder, Chicago tech entrepreneur Michael Ferro, and is seeking approval to bump his stake up to 30 percent. He donated to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats during the last election cycle as well as to Arizona Sen. John McCain. Despite his campaign allegiances, Soon-Shiong dined with President-elect Donald Trump in late November and was said to be a potential candidate for a senior health care role, which has not materialized. He continues to work on his goal of creating a vaccine-based immunotherapy for cancer by 2020, changing the initiative’s name from “Cancer Moonshot 2020” to “Cancer Breakthroughs 2020.” Soon-Shiong pushed back against a report from Boston Globe-affiliated health care website Stat that said he wound up profiting from a donation to the University of Utah that came back to his company in the form of genetic-sequencing work. As NantKwest chief executive, Soon-Shiong topped the list of highest-paid public company executives in 2015 with $148 million in compensation – mostly in stock options. Born in South Africa to Chinese parents, he finished high school at 16 and med school at 23. After moving to Canada on a fellowship, he was recruited to UCLA in 1983 as a researcher. The part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers was seen hugging the retiring Kobe Bryant after the basketball star’s final game.
NET WORTH: $18 billion (+16.9%)
LAST YEAR: $15.4 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Pharmaceuticals, health care, technology, investments