Ebony, Jet publisher sells company
The publishers of Ebony and Jet magazines announced last week that an investment arm of JPMorgan Chase will become an investor and part owner of the iconic publishing company, which also produces Fashion Fair Cosmetics. It is the first time in the company's 69-year history that it will not be fully family-owned.
Johnson Publishing Co., publishers of Ebony and Jet magazines, announced last week that an investment arm of JPMorgan Chase will become an investor and part owner of the company, which also produces Fashion Fair Cosmetics.
It is the first time in the company's 69-year history that it will not be fully family-owned. CEO Desiree Rogers said JPMorgan Chase would have only a "minority stake," with a presence on the Johnson Publishing board.
It is "very important that the company remain minority-owned," she said. She declined to describe the stake as "substantial," as the Chicago Tribune did.
Rogers would not disclose the amount from JPMorgan Chase but said it "gives us the capital to move forward with the plans we've been working on – the continuing rebranding of Ebony, which includes remaking the magazine's digital platform; rebranding the pocket-sized Jet magazine, as it did with Ebony; and marketing the Fashion Fair cosmetics line more effectively."
"We don't think we could have found a better partner," Rogers said in a telephone interview from New York. She said the First National Bank of Chicago, a predecessor to JPMorgan Chase, provided one of Johnson Publishing Co.'s first bank accounts.
Rogers also disclosed that the company is looking for a new director of corporate communications and for marketing department employees. Rodrigo A. Sierra, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer who was Rogers' first appointment as CEO last August, left in mid-June to form his own company, she said.
She said the company was "busily finalizing" arrangements for new offices in Chicago. The company announced in November it was selling its historic headquarters on South Michigan Avenue but would remain in the space for 18 months.
In addition, Ebony and Jet, which have weathered declining circulation, have achieved their "rate base," the circulation guaranteed advertisers, Rogers said. However, in Jet's case, the guarantee was lowered from 900,000 to 800,000. Ebony's circulation stands at 1,250,000, she said.
Circulation has been outsourced to the New York firm Shain & Oringer, which describes itself as a full service marketing solution company.
"They have really whipped our department into shape," Rogers said.
In the fall, the New York Times wrote about the ability of Rogers, a former White House social secretary under President Obama, to navigate the New York social and fashion scenes. Asked what new advertisers she had attracted, Rogers named Revlon for Ebony, Sprite for Ebony and Jet, Oscar de la Renta for Ebony, and a fashion company based in Amsterdam.
Greg O'Hara, head of Chase's special investments group said: "We are delighted to partner with our client Johnson Publishing Company, with which we have worked for more than 40 years. This investment demonstrates our commitment to Johnson Publishing's iconic brands, which have stood the test of time."
Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., said, JPMorgan Chase's "investment in our firm is a logical outgrowth of our longstanding relationship. It positions Johnson Publishing for continued growth as a family-owned publisher of the Black community's most-trusted media brands by providing financial resources to take our iconic EBONY and JET magazines to the next level and accelerate our growth strategy for Fashion Fair Cosmetics."
"We are grateful for the support of our readers, advertisers and business partners, and we are excited about the future opportunities this investment creates for our company," Rice added.
According to Crain's Chicago Business, "Johnson Publishing is one of the biggest minority-owned firms in the Chicago area, with revenue of $200 million in 2009, according to a Crain's list published in November."
The company has about 125 employees, down from 250 at the end of 2009.
Ebony and Jet have served the black community for more than 60 years. With circulation of 1.25 million copies per month and 800,000 per week, they are the number 1 and 3 number publications, respectively, focused on Black America.
Launched in 1973, Fashion Fair Cosmetics is a global prestige cosmetics brand for women of color that is currently sold in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and the Caribbean.
Friday, July 15, 2011
well yesterday it was Essence who hired a white male general manager and now this... Are black owned companies really that bad off that they have to sell a stake of their company? Really? so nobody could go talk to Oprah's people or Mr. Cosby or the hundreds of Multi Millionaires that are african americans in this country? No one from our community wanted to own a stake in their community... Really?
Posted by sweetga at 1:08 PM