Sequential Brands Group is nearing a deal to buy Martha Stewart’s long struggling publishing, Internet, broadcast, and merchandising company, the Wall Street Journal reports. That provided a 26.7% jolt to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia shares, bringing its market value to nearly $365 million.
Sequential owns, manages, and licenses consumer brands including Ellen Tracy, Avia, Revo, Caribbean Joe, Linens ‘N things, and The Franklin Mint.
The domestic diva launched the company in 1997 and took it public in 1999 although she holds about 90% of the voting rights. But it has faded over the last decade. In late 2013 it hired a turnaround specialist from the metals industry, Daniel Dienst, to be CEO and focus on merchandising. He replaced former Oxygen Media exec Lisa Gersh who left at the end of 2012 after holding the top job for just five months. She had 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 not to renew The Martha Stewart Show.
Last year the company agreed to oursource its magazines, including Martha Stewart Living, to Meredith Corp. In the process, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia cut its work force to about 270 from 600 in 2012.
In 2006 Stewart agreed to leave the company for five years as part of a deal with the SEC which dropped a civil case against her in the ImClone insider trading investigation. She also served a five month jail term after she was convicted of obsstructing a government investigation.