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.
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