Sears to sell Prodigy stake?

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IBM Corp.'s formation of a new consumer marketing unit on Monday has fueled new speculation that Sears, Roebuck & Co. will sell its 50% stake in Prodigy Services Co. to IBM, which owns the other half of the online service. The new IBM unit, under the leadership of James Firestone, a former Ameritech and American Express executive, will bring together various IBM consumer divisions, including PCs and online services.

While acknowledging that talks between Sears and IBM are continuing, Brian Ek, Prodigy VP-consumer affairs, said, "I would not say you could expect substantial changes" in the IBM-Sears relationship. Discussions between IBM and Sears strengthened earlier this year, but did not bear any fruit.

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