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Martha Stewart buys chunk of Emeril enterprise

NEW YORK Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. has agreed to buy the nonrestaurant assets of chef Emeril Lagasse in a deal initially valued at $50 million.

Stewart’s company is acquiring the rights to Lagasse’s television programs, including “The Essence of Emeril,” syndicated episodes of “Emeril Live,” and segments on ABC’s “Good Morning America”; cookbooks; the website; and branded kitchen and food products, such as Bam! B-Q sauce and spices.

The deal does not include Lagasse’s 11 restaurant properties or his company's corporate office in New Orleans.

MSLO said it would pay $50 million, which includes $45 in cash and $5 million in stock, in the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter. The price could reach $70 million if certain performance targets are realized in 2011 and 2012, MSLO noted.

MSLO said that Lagasse's enterprise, excluding restaurants, generated $14 million in revenue in 2007.

Susan Lyne, president and chief executive of MSLO, said: “Emeril brings talent, energy and legions of fans to the Martha Stewart family, along with a powerful brand and an attractive, profitable business franchise.

"Emeril's high-quality food-related content and product lines complement our own and offer multi-platform expansion opportunities,” Lyne said. “This acquisition is a significant one strategically as we expand and diversify our business by applying our expertise in managing multi-platform lifestyle brands.”

Martha Stewart, founder of MSLO, said: “I first met Emeril more than 20 years ago, before he had opened his first restaurant. I have been an admirer ever since. His remarkable talents in the kitchen and his high-energy exuberance delight and inform. He made television cooking programs mainstream, opening the category to new audiences and proving that cooking is something everyone can enjoy.”

Lagasse said in a statement that the deal would help grow the Emeril brand.

“By affiliating with a larger company with means, infrastructure and reach, we know we can maximize its great potential,” he said.

MSLO publishes four magazines, including the flagship publication, Martha Stewart Living. It also operates the website and produces Martha Stewart Radio and syndicated TV programs, including "The Martha Stewart Show," "Everyday Food," and "Everyday Baking from Everyday Food."

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