Omnimedia nabs franchise for $50 million

Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse have cooked up a business deal.

Stewart’s Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has agreed to pony up at least $50 million to buy Lagasse’s TV programming, his 12 cookbooks, website and licensed kitchen and food products.

Not part of the deal are Lagasse’s foundation-related assets, which are headquartered in New Orleans, and his 11 restaurants.

Lagasse “brings to the MSLO fold a well-managed company with highly attractive (earnings) and cash flow levels that will contribute immediately to our performance,” said MSLO prexy-chief exec Susan Lyne. She added that the deal will “offer multiplatform expansion opportunities” for the lifestyle brands of Stewart and Lagasse.

Citing MSLO’s “means, infrastructure and reach,” Lagasse said the new venture will take his various businesses “to the next level.”

The purchase price encompasses $45 million in cash and $5 million in stock. That figure could end up as high as $70 million “if certain performance targets are realized in 2011 and 2012,” according to MSLO.

MSLO takes over Lagasse’s TV shows, which include two Food Network series — the ongoing weekly “Essence of Emeril” and reruns of “Emeril Live” — and his regular appearances as a food correspondent on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Two months ago, Lagasse parted ways with the Food Network, deciding not to continue production of his daily “Emeril Live” series. The split came about at least in part because the Food Network wanted to get a piece of the licensing and merchandising of the Lagasse name on various consumer items, as well as books, DVDs and other outside projects.

A Food spokesman said the net “fully supports” the agreement between Stewart and Lagasse, adding: “All of Emeril’s shows will remain on the network, and we also look forward to working with him on future projects.”

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