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Dean Witter's Offering Soars...

In Business This Week


On Feb. 23, Dean Witter, Discover & Co. was born again as a public company. Parent Sears Roebuck spun off 20% of the brokerage and credit-card unit to the public, raising a handsome $913 million. The stock had an offering price of 27 and has since zoomed above 31.

To keep the stock that high, CEO Philip Purcell will have to win his battle to allow Discover to issue Visa cards. Another key question: Will Sears shareholders be as enthusiastic as Wall Street? Sears holders will receive the remaining 80% of Dean Witter Discover stock as a dividend later this year. If they all dump their new shares, Dean Witter's fall could be as sudden as its rise. EDITED BY HARRIS COLLINGWOOD

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