TAMPA — Dr. Kiran Patel, a Tampa Bay entrepreneur and philanthropist, has confirmed that he is among the investors in the Tampa Bay Times.
"I think print media is necessary, and naturally with changing times they are facing some challenges," Patel said Thursday. "I felt that supporting the only major newspaper in our area will be good for the community and the society."
Patel said he did not consider the investment to be "charity."
"There was also adequate collateral where the principal was protected," he said, adding that "if I could help preserve the print media and it didn’t hurt me, I didn’t see that as a bad option."
In July, Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of Times Publishing, announced that a group of investors called FBN Partners was loaning the Times $12 million as part of a larger refinancing by the parent company. Collateral included a mortgage on buildings and land.
Frank Morsani, a Tampa business executive and philanthropist, said then that he and his wife, Carol, had taken one of eight shares in the partnership. Other investors identified at the time or subsequently were Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning; Ted Couch, a Tampa developer and philanthropist; and Robert Rothman, chairman of a Tampa investment company and part owner of the Washington Redskins. Tash and his, wife, Karyn, also invested.
Tash has said that the Times would like to name all of the investors but would honor their individual preferences. Told that Patel had confirmed his investment, Tash said: "I’m happy for any of them to be out."
Patel bought WellCare Health Plans, then a small health maintenance organization, in 1992 and sold it a decade later for a reported $200 million. He then started Freedom Health/Optimum Healthcare, which he sold to industry giant Anthem Inc. this fall for an undisclosed price.
Patel and his wife, Pallavi, announced in September that are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for Nova Southeastern University. Their commitment to the private, Fort Lauderdale-based university — $50 million in a cash donation and $150 million toward real estate the Patels would continue to control — would rank among the largest individual commitments to a college or university.
Among the Patels’ other donations have been $26 million to the University of South Florida; $5 million for a conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts; and $3 million for a research institute at Florida Hospital Tampa. They also have built hospitals in India and Zambia, where Kiran Patel grew up.