NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Harcourt General Inc. said Monday it will spin off its controlling interest in the upscale retailer Neiman-Marcus Group Inc. to Harcourt shareholders.
Under the plan, about 21.4 million of the 26.4 shares of Neiman-Marcus stock held by Harcourt General will be converted into a new Class B Neiman-Marcus stock. The new stock will be distributed to Harcourt General shareholders and will have the right to elect about 80 percent of the Neiman Marcus board.
Under the transaction, the remaining shares of Neiman-Marcus -- including the approximately 5 million shares that will be retained by Harcourt General -- will be redesignated Class A common stock.
The tax-free distribution is expected to be completed some time this fall, the companies said.
In New York Friday, Neiman-Marcus stock closed down 1/2 at 30-1/2. Shares in Harcourt General closed down 1 at 49-5/8.
The spinoff will establish two widely held, growth-oriented companies "that are recognized leaders in their respective markets," said Richard A. Smith, chairman and CEO of Harcourt General and chairman of Neiman-Marcus.
"Increased liquidity will provide new opportunities for investors looking to participate in the growth of Neiman Marcus Group, which is the preeminent upscale retailer in America," Smith said.
Neiman Marcus's operations include Neiman Marcus Stores, NM Direct and Bergdorf Goodman
Harcourt General is the parent of Harcourt Inc., a wholly owned publishing and educational services company. The spinoff simplifies Harcourt General's corporate structure and will provide capital to fund future growth, Smith said.