Oprah’s impressed enough with Weight Watchers that she’s become an owner of the business.
“Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.”
According to the purchase agreement, multi-media mogul Winfrey will buy newly issued shares representing 10% of the total outstanding and will receive options to acquire an additional 5% of the fully diluted shares. She’ll also serve on the Board of Directors.
One of the motivating factors behind her move was the new Weight Watchers initiative to expand the company’s mission from weight control to prioritizing overall health and wellness.
“Weight Watchers and Oprah Winfrey make a powerful combination,” said Ray Debbane, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Oprah is a force of nature in connecting with people on a very personal level to live inspired lives. This partnership will accelerate our transformation and will meaningfully expand our ability to impact many millions of people worldwide.”
Jim Chambers, President and CEO, adds “Through our conversations, it became clear that there is tremendous alignment between Oprah’s intention and our mission. We believe that her remarkable ability to connect and inspire people to realize their full potential is uniquely complementary to our powerful community, extraordinary coaches and proven approach.”
Oprah’s role at the company will include not only offering her own experiences and perspective but participating in the development and execution of new programs.
Investors reacted favorably to the news, pushing the value of Weight Watchers shares up 86% to $12.60 as of 10:25 a.m. Monday. Winfrey bought her shares at $6.79 for a total investment of $43.2 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The company’s stock had lost more than 72% of its value this year before her purchase was publicized. Weight Watchers’ core program has suffered as dieters show increasing preference for using smartphone applications as opposed to attending group meetings.
That prompted the rollout of a new Weight Watchers service called Personal Coaching, which offers targeted health advice through email, text-messaging and phone calls. Other steps have included investing in online technology, like personalized accounts that sync with activity-tracking devices such as FitBit.