Black & Decker sells PRC unit for $60 million


In a small step toward its goal of selling its PRC subsidiary, Black & Decker Corp. yesterday announced it has agreed to sell PRC Realty Systems Inc. for $60 million to a newly created company.

The buyer, News Holding Corp., was recently formed by four media companies: Tribune Co., Advance Publications Inc., Knight-Ridder Inc. and Cox Newspapers Inc.

PRC Realty, which provides multiple listing services for more than 200 real estate boards across the country, produced less than 8 percent of the revenues for the McLean, Va.-based computer systems company, which had sales of $883 million last year. The real estate service has 550 of PRC's 7,000 workers.

Seeing it as incompatible with its other operations, the Towson-based manufacturer of power tools and appliances has sought to dispose of PRC ever since it was acquired as part of the 1989 acquisition of Emhart Corp.

But PRC, which relies heavily on Pentagon contracts, became less attractive as a purchase with the end of the Cold War. A 1992 public offering of the subsidiary was withdrawn because of cool interest.

"All this suggests is that we are doing whatever we can to maximize shareholder value," said Michael J. Allan, director of investor relations for Black & Decker. "If it looks like the way to do that best is through sales of it in different pieces, then we might entertain that," he said.

The money from the sale, which is expected to be completed in the next several months, will be used to reduce debt, Mr. Allan said.

PRC Realty, which will keep its management, provides computer service for the listing of houses for sale for real estate boards. The company's services are used by more than 220,000 real estate agents and are used in southern Maryland, Hagerstown and Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.

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