Los Angeles -- Oxygen Media has rallied some new backers,
with luxury-goods group LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Europ@web making a $122
million strategic investment in the company.
LVMH will take a minority stake in Oxygen and have a seat
on its board.
"They are very sophisticated investors in the online
world," Oxygen chairman Geraldine Laybourne said, "and as a retailer, they
understand what the future is."
Europ@web -- the Internet-investment company established by
Le Groupe Arnault, which controls LVMH -- is an active Internet and electronic-commerce
investor in Europe and the United States.
LVMH includes brands such as Parfums Christian Dior, Dom
Perignon, Möet & Chandon, Louis Vuitton, Christian Lacroix, Kenzo Parfums and Celine.
"Geraldine Laybourne and her partners in Oxygen
understand, as we do, that women wield enormous economic clout," Europ@web managing
director Andre de Baubigny said in a prepared statement. "Our investment in Oxygen
Media reflects our corporate strategy of investing in media companies that show great
promise for growth."
Both Laybourne and Oxygen chief operating officer Lisa Hall
said that at this point, the deal doesn't include LVMH either advertising or promoting its
luxury brands on either Oxygen's Web sites or its cable network, which launches in
February. "There are no string attached in terms of e-commerce or advertising,"
However, Hall said, Oxygen and LVMH will explore ways they
can work together, such as e-commerce, in the future.
Oxygen's audience on the Web and for its cable network --
women -- is the target for many LVMH products. But at this point, LVMH is most interested
in taking stakes in Internet companies such as Oxygen, according to Hall.
Europ@web had made investments in 25 Internet companies,
including 1-800-Flowers.com and E-LOAN Inc.
Oxygen's investors include Oprah Winfrey's Harpo
Entertainment Group, Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures Inc. and America Online Inc.
At the Western Show here last week, Oxygen hosted a party
at the Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood for the press and cable operators. The studio is
home for the sets of six Oxygen shows, and the network had its talent on hand for the
party, including Candice Bergen, host of Exhale.
Also last week at the show, Oxygen announced an executive
appointment and signed new talent.
Jude Brennan was named to the newly created bicoastal
position of senior vice president of programming. Brennan -- who is currently vice
president of creative affairs for David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Inc., and who is an
Emmy Award-winning producer of The Late Show with David Letterman -- will report to
Oxygen cofounder Caryn Mandabach, as well as Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner. Brennan, who has
spent 20 years with Letterman, will oversee Oxygen's program schedule.
In a prepared statement, Mandabach said, "Jude's
joining Oxygen is a wonderful addition to our team. Her creative vision, acumen for talent
and projects are the things that made her the obvious choice for the position. She has
been the head of one of television history's most successful talk shows, and we know she
will bring the same depth and breadth to her new position at Oxygen."
And Los Angeles yoga instructor Steve Ross will host and
executive-produce Inhale, Oxygen's daily morning hour-long exercise program. Ross
has been a yoga instructor for more than 17 years, and he has been dubbed the yoga
"guru of Los Angeles" by Vanity Fair magazine. He now teaches classes at
Maha Yoga and gives private instruction to many celebrities.
At the show, Oxygen also said it was working with AT&T
Corp.'s National Digital Television Center to build a technical structure to launch the
network. All Oxygen programming and commercials will be uplinked through the center in
Denver, which will serve as the network's origination point.