No ‘Magic’ for Johnson Publishing Co.

Talks to acquire publisher of Ebony, Jet collapse

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson said Monday that talks to do business with Johnson Publishing Co., the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, are now dead.

“Recently, an affiliate of Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Co. were in advanced discussions to do business together, but unfortunately we were unable to reach a definitive agreement,” the former Los Angeles Laker said in a statement.

The statement confirms rumors from last week that Johnson’s Magic Johnson Enterprises had an interest in investing in and possibly buying Johnson Publishing (No. 15 on the BE 100s Industrial Service list with $328 million in revenues).

Magic Johnson, who is not related to the Johnson publishing family,  has formed several strategic partnerships with companies such as Sodexo, Starbucks Corp., AMC Entertainment Inc., and Aetna. Johnson has also ventured into the financial services sector, and through the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund committed nearly $1 billion in capital on the revitalization of ethnically diverse communities. He also licenses his name and likeness to companies such as Jackson Hewitt and furniture rental company Rent-a-Center, an endeavor that critics say discredits his goals to uplift the black community.
Ebony and Jet Magazines introduced the country to Black American life, fashion, and celebrities when John H. Johnson founded the magazine in 1942 on a loan from his mother’s furniture. The company is now run by Linda Johnson Rice, the founders’ daughter.

“I would like to salute Linda Johnson Rice and the Johnson family for pioneering the iconic brand of the Johnson Publishing Co., which we have all come to love and respect,” said Magic Johnson. “Ebony and Jet have been permanent fixtures on coffee tables in African-American homes for many years.”

Johnson said he will continue to look for opportunities to invest in African American media.

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