Oprah Winfrey Buys Stake In Weight Watchers, Will Sit On Management Board

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NEW YORK -- Oprah Winfrey is paying about $43.2 million for a 10 per cent stake in Weight Watchers and is joining the weight management company's board.

The company's shares are up almost 48 per cent in premarket trading on word of the deal.

Weight Watchers International Inc. said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday that as part of a five-year agreement, Winfrey has given the company the right to use her name, image, likeness and endorsement for the company, its programs, products and services, subject to her approval. She will also make personal appearances on the company's behalf.

For her part, Winfrey has the right to use Weight Watchers marks to collaborate with and promote the company, its programs, products and services. Winfrey will consult with Weight Watchers and help in the development, planning and execution of its program and related initiatives.

"We are expanding our purpose from focusing on weight loss alone to more broadly helping people lead a healthier, happier life,'' said Weight Watchers President and CEO Jim Chambers said in a written statement.

Winfrey is buying approximately 6.4 million shares of Weight Watchers at $6.79 per share. She will also receive options to buy an additional 5 per cent of the company's fully diluted shares.

The New York-based company's board expands from nine to 10 members with Winfrey's inclusion.

The agreement has additional successive one-year renewal terms. Winfrey's term on the Weight Watchers' board expires in 2018.

Weight Watcher's shares soared $3.24, or 47.7 per cent, to $10.03 in premarket trading.

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