The Lavidge Company is working PR for Najafi Companies, the private equity firm that has backed TV chef Paula Deen's comeback with an investment reportedly worth up to $100M.

paula deenPhoenix-based Najafi, which owns the Book-of-the-Month Club and the NBA's Phoenix Suns, among other entities, has said it invests in companies with strong management teams in various industries, "often in industries out of popular favor." Its $2B Najafi Media operation is backing Paula Deen Ventures, encompassing Deen's food, media, eatery, cookware and home goods brands.

“All of us at Najafi Companies have a deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” Najafi CEO Jahm Najafi said in a statement.

Deen was booted from the Food Network and lost other sponsorship deals last June after she admitted to using a racial epithet in a deposition.

The Wall Street Journal reported March 13 that Deen and Najafi were introduced through a mutual friend.

Najafi is a longtime client of Lavidge, which is also based in Phoenix. Anne Robertson is managing director, PR, for the firm.

The Rose Group of Los Angeles is Deen's PR firm of the last three years.