Magic Johnson

*It looks like the likelihood of Earvin Magic Johnson buying Johnson Publishing is no longer in the offing.

In a statement, Johnson admitted an affiliate of his company held “advanced discussions” to buy Johnson Publishing Co., the owner of Ebony and Jet, but was unable to reach an agreement.

Johnson says he remains interested in African-American media, but currently isn’t disclosing whether he is looking at other properties:

“I would like to salute Linda Johnson Rice and the Johnson family for pioneering the iconic brand of the Johnson Publishing Company, which we have all come to love and respect. Ebony and Jet have been permanent fixtures on coffee tables in African-American homes for many years. Recently, an affiliate of Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Company were in advanced discussions to do business together, but unfortunately we were unable to reach a definitive agreement. We will continue to look for opportunities to invest in African-American media.”

Linda Johnson Rice

Meanwhile, Wendy E. Parks, Johnson Publishing Co. spokeswoman, issued this statement to Journal-isms:

“Our team of advisers have continued to explore a wide range of options to leverage our iconic Ebony and Jet brands and sustain our leadership position in the marketplace as the No. 1 African-American-owned publishing company in the world. As a privately held company, we are unable to discuss specifics of our discussions with potential partners.”

Ad revenue at Johnson Publishing’s Ebony magazine declined 38 percent to $35.5 million last year on a 39 percent drop in ad pages, according to Publishers Information Bureau.

Los Angeles-based Magic Johnson Enterprises, has partnerships with several companies including Starbucks Corp., 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. and T.G.I. Friday’s Inc.