Burkle, Magic Johnson Get Into Vibe, While Soul Train Is Coming Back

Get ready to bust a move because “Soul Train” will likely be coming back.

That’s not all the big news coming from InterMedia Partners, the New York private equity firm. Today, InterMedia announced it had sold a stake in Vibe Holdings to Magic Johnson Enterprises and Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. Peter Kern, an InterMedia managing partner, wouldn’t disclose any financial information or how much of Vibe Johnson or Burkle own.

“We sold a significant stake,” Kern says. “We’re all partners in this. I wouldn’t depict any of us as controlling partners.”

One banker said the deal was likely small, while the Wall Street Journal said the investment was in the “eight figures.”

The transaction closed in late January. There were no investment banks involved in the deal, Kern says. Instead, the deal grew out of relationships InterMedia had with Yucaipa and Johnson, who were both looking to invest in urban media. Discussions began in third quarter, Kern says.

Johnson will become chairman of Vibe Holdings, which owns Vibe magazine, Vibe.com, Uptown magazine, and the “Soul Train” TV show and library. Johnson, Kern says, is a “tremendously impressive guy.” Burkle, the mogul who reportedly has been looking for a media deal  (he bid for Tribune), is equally talented. “It’s a pretty good crowd to hang around with,” Kern says. “We’re very happy.”

InterMedia acquired Vibe in 2009 from its lenders after the magazine was shuttered. Vibe magazine, which publishes six times a year, is sold only at newsstands. “This year we’ll transition to subscribers,” Kern says. “It’s doing very well at the newsstand.”

Vibe’s digital reach has also grown to 1.3 million monthly unique users, he says.

“Soul Train,” the musical variety show that aired from 1971 to 2006, may also be back on the air soon, Kern says. “A ‘Soul Train’ TV show is in the works,” he says. “We’ll have music and dancing as part of it.”

InterMedia invests in the urban market. Current holdings include CineLatino, the Gospel Music Channel and Universal Sports. InterMedia invests anywhere from $10 million to as much as $150 million per deal.

The buyout shop is currently investing out of its seventh fund, which raised just under $700 million in 2006. InterMedia will likely be looking to raise its next pool, with a $1 billion target, in the next six to 24 months, Kern says.