The San Diego Union-Tribune logo on the building at 600 B Street where the newsroom is located. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times denied a report that he is exploring a possible sale of the two Southern California newspapers.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong has been focused on his immunotherapy company, which is developing a COVID-19 vaccine, and has little time to devote to the newspapers’ businesses.

The Journal quoted a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Times as saying the owner and his family “continue to invest in and plan for the future” of the newspapers, and Soon-Shiong tweeted a denial of the report.

According to the report, which was based on sources, Soon-Shiong has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the two publications but has been disappointed by “substantial losses” and the slow expansion of digital operations.

Earlier this week, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and eight other major U.S. newspapers agreed to be acquired by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital in a deal valued at $630 million.

The Journal report noted that Alden owns other newspapers in California and could potentially acquire the Times and Union-Tribune as well.

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