CI VIEW: Magic Johnson co-opts France’s Sodexo and Starbucks to bridge the opportunity gap UPDATE

WASHINGTON (BBN) — (Updated September 15, 2017 to include interview with Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz)  — Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s ability to co-opt some of the world’s largest companies such as Paris-based catering and outsourcing giant Sodexo (EPA:SW) and Seattle-based Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) is more impressive than his exploits on the basketball court.

[Magic Johnson Enterprises founder and CEO Earvin “Magic” Johnson filmed by Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass at Back to School Block Party at all-male DC Public Ron Brown High College Preparatory High School in Northeast DC]

Johnson, who owns a 51% stake in SodexoMagic, — an educational catering business with Sodexo – returned to Washington DC where the company holds a city contract to give an inspiring speech to DC Public Schools first all-male high school, the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast DC.

But Johnson’s strategy of targeting African-American communities such as nearby Prince George’s County and Harlem in New York with amenities such as shopping malls, Starbucks and move theaters has transformed his Los Angeles-based Magic Johnson Enterprises into a multi-billion private equity fund with an even more impressive 40% internal rate of return (IRR).

SodexoMagic is a competitor to Benetton family’s Milan-based Autogrill (BIT:AGL)  that acquired Bethesda, Maryland-based Host Marriott Services (now HMS Host) for USD 530m in 1999.

[Starbucks Corporation CEO Howard Schultz speaks with Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass at Washington Post’s Leading The Way conference on hiring veterans in Washington, DC.  November,  10  2014]

Magic Johnson fame on the basketball court and success as a deal maker gave him the unique opportunity to educate and influence Sodexo CEO Michel Landel on the serious problem of US school children malnutrition and connected health issues.

SodexoMagic says it goal is to set new benchmarks for wellness; diversity and inclusion; fight against hunger; child obesity and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The No Kid Hungry food charity of actor Jeff Bridges and backed by Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Walmart (NYSE:WMT) estimates that 13 million US school children suffer from hunger and that the low quality of food offered in US public only exacerbates the problem. In many low- income areas of the United States, the only guaranteed meal a child may have is in their school cafeteria.

The problem of school malnutrition in urban America is decades old.  In fact, current US Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Ill) battled the all-powerful Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley to institute a school breakfast programs in the late 60s when he was Defense Minister of the Black Panther Party of Chicago.

Other than the pressing issue of child malnutrition, Magic Johnson’s joint venture with the giant Sodexo with 2016 annual revenues EUR 20 bn (USD 23.7bn) also helps open the door to US minority owned catering and food supply business such as Reston, Virginia-based Thompson Hospitality Corporation.

[Thompson Hospitality President and Chairman Warren Thompson speaks to Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass Closing the Wealth Gap at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. September 16, 2016]

In an interview with Capitol Intelligence following at a panel hosted by US House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters during the 2016 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference, Thompson Hospitality Corporation President and founder Warren M. Thompson said it remains very difficult to break into the lucrative US university and college catering and food supply market as a minority owned business.

Mr. Thompson, like Magic Johnson, also joined forces with a major European food services company, Chertsey (Surrey), UK-based Compass Group [LON:CPG] to become the largest minority owned catering group in North America.

Magic Johnson’s appearance at a Back to School rally at the two-year Ron Brown College Preparatory High School also highlighted the economic renaissance of Washington DC.  RBHS is situated in the Mayfair neighborhood of Northeast DC, once one of the most violent and crime ridden areas of the United States.

[Ron Brown College Preparatory High School Principal Dr. Benjamin Williams speak to Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass in Northeast Washington DC. September 9, 2017]

But as Washington DC transformed itself from the murder capital to intellectual capital of United States so has Mayfair.  Ron Brown High School Principal and DC native Dr. Benjamin Williams not only won a college scholarship from no less than The Carlyle Group co-founder and co-CEO David Rubenstein but also served as the host to one of the United States’ most dynamic investors, Magic Johnson.

By PK Semler in Washington, DC. For information please call +1-202-549-3399 or email

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