Ubben Resigns as Martha Stewart Chairman

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Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. announced changes yesterday to its board of directors, a few days after the company's founder challenged a New York court's sentence for charges related to insider trading.


The lifestyle merchandise and media giant said Jeffrey W. Ubben resigned as board chairman while retaining his directorship. His San Francisco-based ValueAct Capital investment partnership is the second-largest shareholder in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia after Martha Stewart.


Ubben's successor as chairman is Thomas C. Siekman, a director of the company since August 2003. He has served as counsel at several firms, including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.


"With the company having weathered a most difficult period associated with Martha Stewart's personal legal situation, I felt this was the right time to turn over the chairmanship to someone who has the skills and, most importantly, sufficient time available to guide the board and the company forward from this point," Ubben said in a statement.


The company also said Arthur C. Martinez, former chairman/CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co., quit as lead director on the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia board. His position has been eliminated.


In a related move, Stewart proposed her nominee to the board, Charles A. Koppelman. He is chairman/CEO of CAK Entertainment Co. He served as chairman of teen footwear chain Steve Madden Ltd. from 2000 to mid-2004. The founder of that self-named New York-based retailer was imprisoned for flipping stock.


Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has nine directors. Sharon Patrick, the only company employee on the board, doubles as president/CEO.


Stewart was sentenced July 16 to five months in prison, five months of home confinement and fined $30,000 as a result of her conviction on four counts of conspiracy and lying to investigators regarding insider trading of biotech firm ImClone Systems Inc.'s stock in December 2001.


The 62-year-old former chief executive of her company also gets two years of supervised probation after she is released.


Stewart, who claims to have received 175,000 supportive e-mails on her personal site at www.marthatalks.com, has appealed the conviction.


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