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Martha Stewart, Net grocer mull technology deal

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and EthnicGrocer.com are in talks to form a strategic alliance, an EthnicGrocer executive says.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and EthnicGrocer.com are in talks to form a strategic alliance, an EthnicGrocer executive said Wednesday.

EthnicGrocer, a privately held Chicago-based online seller of ethnic foods, could lease technology to Martha Stewart Living, said Kanwar Singh, general counsel for EthnicGrocer. A deal has yet to be finalized, he said.

EthnicGrocer, which began strictly as an online merchant of ethnic foods, launched a business-to-business offering called Vadia to lease out the company's logistics technology and access to its distribution channels, Singh said.

Backed by venture capital firms Benchmark Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, EthnicGrocer operates four Web sites that specialize in different ethnic foods--including Namaste.com for the Asian-Indian market and QueRico.com, which offers Latin American foods.

Martha Stewart Living, the New York-based media empire built from Stewart's homemaking tips, went public in October 1999 and saw its stock almost double on its first day of trading. On Wednesday, the stock ended the regular trading session on the New York Stock Exchange up $1.19, or more than 5 percent, to $24.81. The company publishes books and magazines and operates MarthaStewart.com.