Freddie Mac said Tuesday that it plans a public offering of 15 million shares of its common stock.

Proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including funding growth opportunities in the company's investment and securitization businesses. At noon, after the announcement, Freddie Mac shares were at $55.625, suggesting that proceeds could be about $834 million.

"This offering will provide us with the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace and to continue to deliver strong results for our shareholders and for America's families," said Freddie Mac chairman and chief executive officer Leland C. Brendsel.

Freddie Mac said it anticipates 1998 retained mortgage portfolio growth of $75 billion to $80 billion-a significant increase over its earlier estimate of $40 billion to $50 billion.

"Freddie Mac believes in maintaining a strong capital position at all times and in actively managing our capital base," said David W. Glenn, president and chief operating officer. "Today's announcement demonstrates our commitment to these principles."

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