Exec leaves CEO post at Omnimedia

Susan Lyne has ankled as prexy- CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia after four years in the post.

MSLO has promoted two execs to share the role of chief exec: Wenda Harris Millard, who has been president of media, and Robin Marino, prexy of merchandising.

Lyne, whose contract with MSLO expires this month, had been prexy of ABC Entertainment before joining MSLO in June 2004. She was tapped to lead the company during the difficult period when founder Stewart was dominating headlines with a legal drama that culminated in her serving a five-month jail sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with an insider trading case.

Stewart was released from prison early in 2005 and signed with NBC Universal for a syndicated daily TV series that has been a steady, if not spectacular, player for the Peacock.

Lyne is credited with helping to keep MSLO grounded as a business entity during a tenuous period for the company and its founder. Nonetheless, the company’s overall value has fallen drastically during Lyne’s tenure.

Pulled down in part by the slump in the publishing biz, MSLO shares fell from a high of about $37 in February 2005 to below $8. Shares fell 48¢, or more than 6%, to $7.50 in trading Wednesday.

There’s been speculation in recent days that Lyne could be bound for a top publishing post at Time Warner. Industry insiders also see her as a possible candidate to run Oprah Winfrey’s cable venture with Discovery Communications. Lyne worked closely with Winfrey during her tenure at ABC on the production of the “Oprah Winfrey Presents” telepics.

For the short term, Lyne will continue as an adviser and board member of the company during the transition to Millard and Marino.

Millard was chief sales officer of Yahoo when she signed with MSLO a year ago. Marino was president of the Kate Spade Co. when Stewart’s company hired her in 2005.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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