updated 12/16/2005 9:09:55 AM ET 2005-12-16T14:09:55

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. said Friday that James Follo, chief financial and administrative officer, will resign in March and will be replaced temporarily as chief financial officer by its vice president for finance and investor relations, Howard Hochhauser.

In a statement, Follo, 45, said he wanted to "explore the next stage of my professional career," without providing further details.

He will leave after the media and home fashions company files its annual report for 2005 witrh the Securites and Exchange Commission.

Follo has worked at the company since 1998 and served as chief financial officer since March 2001. His tenure as finance chief covered the period during which company founder Martha Stewart was investigated and subsequently jailed for lying about a stock sale, leading to a decline in sales and earnings for the media company.

Susan Lyne, president and chief executive officer, said in the statement the company was "disappointed that Jim has decided to move on."

"He skillfully guided our finances through a particularly challenging period, and did it with professionalism and dedication," she said.

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