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Martha Stewart Signs New Contract With MSO

Sep 27, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has inked a new employment contract with its founder, but she won’t be paid while she serves her five-month prison sentence that starts Oct. 8.

Under the terms of the five-year contract, which was signed Sept. 17 but filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Stewart, the company’s chief editorial and media director, will get a base salary of $900,000 a year and will be entitled to an annual bonus set by members of the board of directors’ compensation committee. The bonus target will be 100 percent of her base salary, though the range can be anywhere from 55 percent to 150 percent of her base salary.

Ms. Stewart will have a non-accountable expense allowance of $100,000 per year, and be entitled to cars and drivers.

In terms of her television and radio work, Ms. Stewart received a payment of $200,000 Sept. 17 for appearances she has already made. In addition, for each edition of a future network television program in which she appears, Ms. Stewart will be paid an amount equal to or greater than $500,000, plus two-thirds of all talent fees due to the company.

Last Wednesday Ms. Stewart and her company struck a deal with reality television king Mark Burnett under which Mr. Burnett will consult with the company on revamping “Martha Stewart Living,” the daily syndicated television show currently on hiatus, and on exploring and developing a network prime-time reality series featuring Ms. Stewart that would be produced by Mr. Burnett.

In exchange, he will receive a warrant to buy up to 2.5 million shares of class A stock in MSO at an exercise price of $12.59 a share. The warrant will vest and become exercisable when certain milestones related to the television shows are reached.

Ms. Stewart will also be paid $500,000 a year for three years for the use of her residences in assorted television shows, with the option to raise that amount to $750,000 in the second and third years if the company uses Ms. Stewart as on-air talent in any of the shows.

Comcast Plan Offers Stock Option Liquidity

Cable giant Comcast said last week it plans to offer non-employee holders of Comcast employee stock options an opportunity to receive value for the options through a stock-option liquidity program. The deal involves 63,000 holders of around 41.6 million options currently worth around $125 million. The holders are mainly former AT&T employees who obtained the Comcast options in November 2002, when Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband and the AT&T options were converted into Comcast options. Comcast said it is extending the offer to these shareholders because they have no affiliation with Comcast.

Malone, Bennett Vacate IAC Board Positions

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone and CEO Robert Bennett have stepped down from the board of Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp over antitrust worries about the two companies’ ownership of rival home-shopping channels. The resignation, which was detailed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by IAC, appears to center on Liberty’s ownership of QVC, which the company assumed control of last year. IAC owns rival channel Home Shopping Network. At issue is whether federal laws prohibit Mr. Malone and Mr. Bennett from serving on the boards of competing companies. While Liberty officials maintain there was no violation, the companies decided to press forward with Mr. Malone’s and Mr. Bennett’s resignations.

EchoStar Revives Tabled $1 Billion Financing Plan

EchoStar Communications last week issued $1 billion in bonds as part of a debt offering, reviving a financing plan that the satellite operator tabled two months ago. The issue, which will be priced privately, will go toward general corporate purposes.