Lagasse Heats Up Martha Stewart Portfolio

Food Network star Emeril Lagasse is now in Martha Stewart’s kitchen.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., in a deal valued at least $50 million, will acquire the assets of a number of businesses tied to the renowned chef.

For $45 million in cash and another $5 million in stock at the time the deal is closed, Martha Stewart Omnimedia has secured the rights to Lagasse’s TV shows, Web site, cookbooks, kitchen and food products.

Expected to close in the second quarter, the agreement, which excludes Emeril’s Homebase, comprising his 11 restaurants, corporate office and foundation-related holdings, could reach $70 million, provided certain benchmarks are met in 2011 and 2012, according to MSLO officials.

The transaction does not impact Food Network’s relationship with Lagasse. The Essence of Emeril remains in production, while Emeril Live continues to air on the Scripps Networks service. Since joining Food in 1993, the chef has hosted over 1600 shows.

"Food Network fully supports Emeril Lagasse and his new agreement with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.," the network said in a statement. We are happy to see that these two great brands will be combining forces and wish both of them the best. All of Emeril's shows will remain on the network and we also look forward to working with him on future projects."

Lagasse also will continue to serve as food correspondent on ABC’s Good Morning America.

"Emeril brings talent, energy and legions of fans to the Martha Stewart family, along with a powerful brand and an attractive, profitable business franchise," MSLO president and CEO Susan Lyne said in a statement. "Emeril's high-quality food-related content and product lines complement our own and offer multiplatform expansion opportunities. He brings to the MSLO fold a well-managed company with highly attractive EBITDA and cash-flow levels that will contribute immediately to our performance. This acquisition is a significant one strategically as we expand and diversify our business by applying our expertise in managing multiplatform lifestyle brands."

MSLO anticipates the deal will be an immediate contibutor: In 2007, the assets it will acquire generated $14 million in revenue, yielding roughly $8 million in EBITDA.