Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=226542
Story Retrieval Date: 10/23/2014 4:18:40 AM CST

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Lingjiao Mo/Medill

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, will become a controlling shareholder of EquiTrust Life Insurance Co.


Magic Johnson: Hundreds of new insurance jobs for Chicago market

by Lingjiao Mo
Jan 15, 2014


Magic Johnson and EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. are promising hundreds of new jobs for the Chicago area.

The former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, slated to become EquiTrust’s controlling shareholder, was on hand Tuesday when the company announced a plan to open its first office in Chicago. The move is a bid to crack the Illinois insurance market while capitalizing on the region’s supply of skilled workers, officials said.

“Being in Illinois and Chicago gives us a huge pool of insurance talents,” said EquiTrust’s CEO Jeff Lange. He said EquiTrust’s business will do well in this new market.

During Tuesday’s news conference at the James R. Thompson Center, NBA legend Johnson, chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, gushed over EquiTrust's move to Chicago.

“This is the first time in a long time that I can be excited in Chicago, because Michael [Jordan] used to beat me here,” Johnson said. He expressed optimism over the West Des Moines, Iowa-based company’s prospects in the Chicago market.

Lange said 200 jobs would initially be created as part of the plan and that about 1,000 jobs would eventually be generated by EquiTrust’s Chicago operations. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel described the move as a win-win.

“We have a world-class work force, world-class transportation and a world-class city,” Emanuel said. “There 26 companies that recently decided to make Chicago their headquarters.”

EquitTrust sells fixed-rate and indexed annuities and life insurance through its national channel of independent agents. It originally operated as a subsidiary of FBL Financial Group Inc. In January 2012, EquiTrust was sold in a $471.4-million deal to a controlled affiliate of Guggenheim Partners LLC, a financial services company that also operated its own annuity business.

Guggenheim Partners also joined Johnson in a 2012 acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.