UPDATED: Shares fell as much as 9.7% in early trading after Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said that Lisa Gersh — who just became CEO of the domestic diva’s media company in July – “plans to step down from that role” as directors begin to search for a successor. The former Oxygen Media exec had been president and chief operating officer at Stewart’s company since 2011 and was expected to beef up its TV programming after Hallmark Channel decided early this year not to renew The Martha Stewart Show. As you might expect, execs say that all’s well. “With the restructuring of the media businesses complete and a strong team leading key financial and corporate functions, the company is on solid footing and positioned for growth,” Gersh says. “There is an exciting future ahead for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and I am committed to working with the board to ensure a smooth transition.” Martha Stewart, who’s founder and non-executive chairman, says that the “media businesses are now repositioned for the future and we are excited about the potential of our digital, mobile, video and print platforms.” But investors aren’t so sure. The company’s shares lost 45% of their value over the last 12 months before this morning’s drop. The publishing business slowed; Stewart’s company said this month that it will close Whole Living, a magazine dedicated to healthy eating. JCPenney, which bought a major stake in the company last year, plans to put Martha Stewart shops in some of its stores in 2013 — but Macy’s says it has an exclusive deal for Stewart’s merchandise and sued for breach of contract.
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Related: Martha Stewart New MSLO Board Chairman
NEW YORK, July 10, 2012 — Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE: MSO) today announced that Martha Stewart has extended her employment agreement with the Company until June 30, 2017. The agreement names Stewart Founder and Chief Creative Officer. Stewart continues to serve as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.
Lisa Gersh, President and Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board of Directors since 2011, has been named Chief Executive Officer. Gersh will continue to report to the Board of Directors.
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Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, looking to find ways to boost advertising sales in its flagship publishing unit, has hired former iVillage ad-sales boss Joe Lagani for the newly created position of chief revenue officer. He will be tasked with leading sales across all of MSLO’s units — including magazines, the website and apps, and TV and radio — as well as to spearhead cross-platform integrations and brand partnerships. Lagani’s experience includes stints at Glam Media and as VP and publisher of Conde Nast’s House And Garden; he also was publisher of Country Home and advertising director at Ladies Home Journal. “(Lagani has) been a major force in the lifestyle space his whole career and has proven his ability to turn around performance and lead great teams,” said MSLO president and COO Lisa Gersh — herself from the lifestyle media world as co-founder of Oxygen Media — in announcing the hire today. MSLO reported a decline in print ad pages in its recent third quarter, which saw its TV and merchandising revenue grow.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is looking to shore up its struggling TV operations with the hire of Geoffrey Darby as General Manager of the company’s TV division. Darby, 25-year TV veteran who recently served as EVP of programming for The Weather Channel and president of production for Oxygen Media, will oversee production and television operations, reporting to recently appointed MSLO president and COO Lisa Gersh. Additionally, Michael Morrison, who will report to Darby, has been named executive producer of The Martha Stewart Show, which launches its seventh season on Hallmark Channel on Sept. 26. Morrison previously served as a programming consultant and executive producer at A&E. When MSLO tapped Gersh in May as COO to become CEO within 12-20 months, the company also announced that it has retained advisory firm Blackstone Advisory Partners, sparking speculation that it is considering a sale.
Will Martha Stewart put her company’s extravagant good-bye gift to Executive Chairman Charles Koppelman in a tasteful gift box with a bow? The former EMI Music chief — who was a fixture on NBC’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart in 2005 — will leave by year’s end, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia disclosed in an SEC filing today. His departure was moved up a year to open running room for MSLO’s new COO Lisa Gersh, who co-founded and ran Oxygen Media until NBCUniversal bought it in 2007. She’s been reporting to Koppelman but will report directly to the board when he leaves. But he shouldn’t complain: His exit package includes a $1.47M severance payment and up to $35,000 for the attorneys who worked on his new arrangement. The filing says he’ll remain on the MSLO board as “Non-Executive Chairman, Vice Chairman or Special Committee Chairman.” That will entitle him to an initial $50,000 in stock rights as well as rights to 100,000 shares. (Stewart, who was convicted of obstruction of justice in connection with an insider trading investigation in 2004, plans to rejoin the board before October.) Don’t let Koppelman’s sweet deal fool you into thinking that the publishing, TV, and merchandise firm’s doing well: MSLO shares lost about 20% of their value over the last 12 months. Read More »
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced today that it has hired Oxygen Media co-founder Lisa Gersh as president and chief operating officer, part of a succession plan in which Gersh is expected to become CEO within 12-20 months. The company also said Martha Stewart will rejoin the board of directors in the third quarter of this year, returning to the post after a five-year SEC ban related to her insider-trading conviction. But the most interesting news might have come farther down the press release, where MSLO said it has retained advisory firm Blackstone Advisory Partners “to review and respond to various parties that have expressed interest in potentially partnering with or investing in the Company, as well as exploring other opportunities.” Although “there is no assurance that the exploration of strategic partnerships and other opportunities will result in a partnership or transaction,” these kind of moves usually signal that a company is exploring all options, including a sale, which has started to get Wall Street types buzzing. Said Stewart: “As the founder and largest stockholder, I fully support this initiative to take our business and iconic brand to the next level.” MLSO is moving to grow in the international and digital spaces after recent declines in its TV and publishing businesses.