By Keith J. Kelly
Ebony, a 1.2 million circulation lifestyle magazine aimed at African-Americans, has been sold by Johnson Publishing to a Texas businessman with backing from a private equity firm, Media Ink has learned.
Austin-based Michael Gibson’s ClearView Partners, with backing from Houston private-equity firm Park View Capital Partners, are the new owners of the 62-year-old monthly. The new company, to be known as Ebony Media Operations, is expected to be chaired by Gibson and have former Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Mayberry McKissack as the new CEO.
“I can confirm that Ebony has been sold,” said Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers. “It allows Johnson Publishing to reduce its debt associated with the media company and focus on growth of its cosmetics business.”
Gibson told Media Ink that current Editor-in-Chief Kierna Mayo will step down and will be replaced in the top spot by Kyra Kyles, who is currently a senior vice president in charge of digital.
Johnson Publishing was founded in Chicago in 1942 by John H. Johnson and his wife Eunice. It is currently headed by his daughter, the company Chairwoman Linda Johnson Rice.
In addition to the divested media operation, the company includes Fashion Fair Cosmetics, which the Johnson family will continue to own.
The company competes head-to -head with Essence, which is owned by Time Inc.
Johnson Publishing has been rapidly down-sizing its operations by over the past five years as it scrambled to keep pace in the rapidly changing media world. It suspended print publication of JET and made it digital-only in 2014.
It also sold its Chicago headquarters building.
DeSilva + Phillips represented the Johnson family in the deal.