April 20, 2024

DealBook: Martha Stewart Living in Play

All anyone can seem to discuss this week is Oprah. But here at DealBook on Wednesday morning, we can’t stop talking about Martha.

Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia surged more than 20 percent on Wednesday after the company announced that it had retained Blackstone Advisory Partners to explore strategic partnerships.

Blackstone will “review and respond to various parties that have expressed interest in potentially partnering with or investing in the company,” the company said in a statement.

“As the founder and largest stockholder, I fully support this initiative to take our business and iconic brand to the next level,” said Martha Stewart, who also announced that she was rejoining the board of directors.

Ms. Stewart has continued to play a significant role in the company that bears her name after serving a prison sentence in 2005 for lying to federal investigators about a stock sale. She was banned for five years from serving as an officer or director at the company.

Along with the announcement that the company is in play, Martha Stewart Living named Lisa Gersh president and chief operating officer. Ms. Gersh, a co-founder of the women-focused television network Oxygen Media, joins the company from NBC, which acquired Oxygen in 2007. Martha Stewart Living, which has struggled to fill the ranks of its executive suite in recent years, said that Ms. Gersh would assume the chief executive post within the next 12 to 20 months.

The company has struggled in recent years amid a downturn in advertising and Ms. Stewart’s legal problems.

Even with the surge on Wednesday, Martha Stewart’s market capitalization is only about $250 million.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d42ac03435d8dd68496551959455b533

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