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IBM, Sears mulling Prodigy's fate

Officials at IBM and Sears are reportedly considering whether to sell their respective shares in the Prodigy online service, according to today's Wall Street Journal.

A report in today's Wall Street Journal says Sears, Roebuck & Co. has already retained investment bankers to sell its half of the Prodigy online service. Sears is seeking as much as $500 million for its Prodigy stake. The retailing giant is also looking into the possibility of offering its stake to the public.

IBM wants to get rid of its Prodigy stake, too. Big Blue has also hired investment bankers to advise the computer giant about what to do with the online service. AT&T was reportedly interested in buying IBM's share last month. Officials balked at the time and now it's unlikely that AT&T would still be interested. AT&T officials recently said they plan to phase out their own proprietary online service.

IBM and Sears have poured over $1 billion into the third-ranked online service. Once the market leader, Prodigy now needs about $100 million per year for a successful revamp, according to industry analysts.