Billionaire Ron Burkle is partnering with former Lakers star and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson to take over Vibe Holdings LLC, a New York-based urban media company with magazine and television properties, Vibe said Wednesday.
As part of the deal, Johnson will become Vibe’s chairman. Johnson and Burkle, founder and managing partner of the Los Angeles investment firm Yucaipa Cos., will join Leo Hindery, whose InterMedia Partners LP already owns a stake in Vibe. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Vibe targets black and other multicultural markets with its Vibe and Uptown magazines and related media websites. It also owns the library of Soul Train, a popular TV show, which aired for 35 years starting in 1971.
“The mission of Magic Johnson Enterprises is focused on building mutually beneficial relationships between corporations and the underserved urban market,” Johnson said in a statement. “History and legacy are paramount in building brand affinity and we plan to integrate this ideology into the resurgence of Vibe Holdings … We will redefine Vibe Holdings as the center of influence for the coveted urban audience."
Johnson has been reconfiguring his investment portfolio in recent months, selling off his stake in the Lakers to biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and also his interests in more than 100 Starbucks stores. Last year he attempted to acquire Johnson Publishing Co., which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, but was unable to reach an agreement.
Burkle, who made his fortune in the grocery and logistics businesses, also has media investments and in the past has indicated an interest in buying the Los Angeles Times.
"Yucaipa's experience in buying and building consumer businesses, along with Earvin's brand and his business acumen are a great complement to InterMedia's experience in media and make this an exciting partnership," Burkle said a statement.
"We intend to build one of the most important enterprises in urban media."
Vibe said that Robert Miller, the co-founder of Vibe magazine, will become chairman of the Vibe and Uptown magazine group. Len Burnett and Brett Wright will remain co-chief executives of the two magazines, and Kenard Gibbs will continue to serve as chief executive of Soul Train.
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