Ebony Sells Minority Stake to JP Morgan Chase; Spokesman Exits Company

Ebony Sells Minority Stake to JP Morgan Chase; Spokesman Exits Company
The Ebony redesign, under CEO Desiree Rogers has received rave reviews from readers.

Johnson Publishing Company’s CEO Desiree Rogers announced that the company has “sold a minority stake” to J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. Reportedly, the undisclosed amount will be funneled back into the company as Rogers and her team continue to bring the iconic black publication into the digital age and into the hands of younger readers.

The deal marks the latest in a series of business moves that the Harvard-educated Rogers has implemented to accelerate the turnaround for Johnson Publishing Company, parent company of Ebony and Jet and Fashion Fair Cosmetics.

In November of 2010, the company sold the Johnson Publishing building to its neighbor, Columbia College, for nearly $8 million. It had been home to the publishing titan for four decades.

The once lavishly decorated 11-story building, located in Chicago’s South Loop, includes an enclosed commercial-sized garage.

In 2009, during the depths of the printing industry decline, the publishing company had liens against it for unpaid bills and it also slowed its payments to printer R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.; in response, Donnelley took out mortgages totaling nearly $12 million on the properties.

Nonetheless, the sale of the building made fiscal sense according to company officials, because only 40 percent of the building is utilized. The company now leases the building it once owned, and will relocate within ten months.

At the time of sale, Rod Sierra, spokesman for Johnson Publishing, said all debts on the property had been settled.

Rod Sierra has since left Johnson Publishing Company to start his own business; he is also a new board member of the Chicago Public Schools.

Johnson Publishing Company founder John H. Johnson wrote of using a white “front man” to purchase the building because the owners did not want to sell to an African American.

Rogers has said that the company is moving with Johnson’s vision in mind: “We’ve transitioned that business to be innovative and creative and think about how can we take these magazines, these books, and change them into what he was thinking 65 years ago.”

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