Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to Be Sold for $353 Million

Sequential Brands Group agrees to acquire the company

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Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia will be acquired by Sequential Brands Group for approximately $353 million, the companies announced on Monday.

“Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Martha Stewart will continue to be an integral part of the brand she founded, with a renewed long-term commitment to serve as chief creative officer,” Sequential said in a statement.

“Ms. Stewart will become a significant stockholder of the new public holding company of Sequential and MSLO and Ms. Stewart will be nominated to serve on its board of directors as of the closing,” Sequential added.

The acquisition comes during a rough year for Stewart’s company, which has been seeing revenue trail and recently handed control of its magazine business to Meredith. For the first quarter of 2015, it lost $2.6 million. Sales plunged by 48 percent to $17.1 million with declines in all segments of the business.

New York-based Sequential owns, manages and licenses a diverse portfolio of brands across industries, including Jessica Simpson, Ellen Tracy, Linens N Things, Revo and The Franklin Mint. According to the company’s website, it is “focused solely on promoting, protecting and activating our portfolio of consumer brands through partnerships with best-in-class licenses.”

Stewart started as a stockbroker before launching a small catering business in the late 1970s. She crested to lifestyle guru fame over the next decade to become a titan of entertaining and homemaking with top-selling tomes including “Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus,” “Martha Stewart’s Wedding Planner” and “Martha Stewart’s Christmas.”

The backbone of the company was her monthly magazine, Martha Stewart Living, her eponymous cable TV show and deals with major retail chains.

Stewart took her company public in 1999, but was forced to resign in 2002 after being charged with insider trading in shares of biotech company ImClone Systems.

She was found guilty and sentenced to five months in prison, splitting her time between a minimum security prison in Alderson, West Virginia, and her home in Connecticut. She was barred from taking a hands-on role at the company for years but returned as chairwoman in 2012.