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Weight Watchers soars after Oprah tips investment scale

20 october 2015, 13:08

Weight Watchers shares more than doubled in value Monday after US media star Oprah Winfrey said she will buy a 10 percent stake in the struggling company, AFP reports.

Winfrey, one of the world's richest celebrities, who has fought a long -- and public -- battle to control her weight, said she was forming a partnership with Weight Watchers International to inspire people worldwide to lead a healthier life. She also will join the company's board.

"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," Winfrey said in a statement.

"I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution." 

Weight Watchers shares soared 105 percent to $13.92.

Winfrey paid $43 million for the 10 percent stake, according to a regulatory filing, and will receive options to acquire an additional five percent. 

Winfrey, 61, said she plans to share her experience with the public as a member of the Weight Watchers program. The weight management program includes weekly meetings for group support and information on developing healthy eating and physical activity patterns.

"Weight Watchers and Oprah Winfrey make a powerful combination," said Ray Debbane, chairman of Weight Watchers board. "Oprah is a force of nature in connecting with people on a very personal level to live inspired lives."

Winfrey has built a financial empire through savvy branding of her name and image and has a net worth of $3 billion, according to Forbes. The television mogul, author and actress is known for spotting talent and setting trends -- books chosen for her Oprah's Book Club regularly end up on best-seller lists.

Her endorsement of Weight Watchers could lift the flagging performance of the company, which has suffered as consumers turn to free online programs and wearable fitness trackers to manage their weight.

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