Starbucks buys out 'Magic' Johnson's share in partnership

Starbucks Corp. announced today its acquisition of Earvin "Magic'' Johnson's 50 percent interest in a partnership formed 12 years ago to build Starbucks stores in underserved neighborhoods.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed in a company statement, but published reports said the former basketball great netted more than $70 million.

More than 100 Starbucks were opened under the 50/50 Urban Coffee Opportunities partnership formed in 1998 between Johnson Development Corp., a division of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and Starbucks Coffee Co.

Over the tenure of the partnership, UCO locations were opened in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Atlanta, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., among other cities.

Starbucks stores in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago and the Crenshaw district in Los Angeles all anchored redevelopment of those areas.

"We are incredibly proud of the work this partnership has accomplished,'' said Howard Schultz, Starbucks' chairman, president and CEO.

"Together we opened several successful locations, including our Harlem store, which led the redevelopment of that now vibrant neighborhood.

"The partnership helped create jobs with health benefits, build community gathering places where they're most needed, and empower change-makers to innovate and take action in their communities,'' he said.

"Thanks to this partnership, Starbucks has deepened our commitment to community development in urban areas and plans additional programs to sustain that commitment.''

Johnson said the partnership with Starbucks served "as an economic catalyst in urban cities through the creation of new jobs, use of local suppliers, support for community-based organizations, and by attracting other retailers to the area.''

"Our success also validates the loyalty and support of urban consumers to companies who bring quality products and services which meet their needs into their communities,'' he said.

On Monday, Johnson sold his share of the Los Angeles Lakers -- the team for which he wore a uniform for 13 years and was a part-owner of more than 10 years -- in a deal that reportedly netted him about $100 million.

Johnson, 51, sold his share of the NBA franchise to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, executive director of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute and professor of microbiology, immunology, molecular genetics and bioengineering at UCLA.

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