Paula Deen has found the recipe for comeback success. She is reportedly going to be the recipient of a $75 million dollar cash infusion from a private equity firm out of Phoenix, Najafi Companies, which is led by Jahm Najafi. Najafi currently owns BMG Music Service and the Book-of-the-Month Club, among others, according to MSN.
And boy, did she need a boost after last year's devastating scandal over a court transcript which revealed that she had used "the n-word" before, but that it had been "a long time". The blow from that ordeal cost her sponsors like pork producer Smithfield Foods and book publisher Ballantine, who published her popular cookbooks. It also cost her the exceedingly popular show on The Food Network.
The new umbrella company, called Paula Deen Ventures, and funded by Najafi Companies, will oversee her restaurants, cookbooks, product endorsements and other various aspects of the Paula Deen empire. She has named Steven Nanula, who has already been working with Deen for the past two years, as CEO of her new company, according to AP.
"We know that the enterprise will be successful and valuable, as Paula and her team continue to bring quality products and experiences to her loyal fan base," Najafi said in a statement.
Najafi reportedly has respect for Deen's past success, and believes that the investment was a wise one that will surely pay off. He is hoping to help Deen move away from a pure licensing model, in which she sells her likeness and expertise to others and to take more ownership and control in partnerships with retailers and other companies.
"Our investment allows the Paula Deen brand to expand their relationships and the partnerships that are already in place, and support those partnerships on a go-forward basis," said Najafi.
As of now, they have been in talks with television networks, major retailers, and other possible partners. However, a deal has yet to be reached, nor has there been any signing of major contracts.
A Food Network spokeswoman said that they haven't been in any talks to bring Paula Deen back to their cable channel.
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