Sterling Commerce Inc., a newly formed company composed of several privately held technology divisions of Sterling Software Inc., is being taken public.

Dallas-based Sterling Software, which tallied $588 million in sales last year, will offer 12 million of its 75 million shares of the new company to the public.

Sterling Software hopes the offering will raise $250 million to $300 million. About $35 million of this would go to the spun-off Sterling Commerce.

"This transaction will enhance the value of both companies," said Sterling L. Williams, the company's president and chief executive in a written statement. Mr. Williams will have the same titles Sterling Commerce.

Julie Kupp, a director of investor relations at Sterling, said the proceeds will be used for working capital, and "other purposes" such as acquiring other technology companies.

"We will turn around and reinvest by developing new products, and we'll consider doing acquisitions," Ms. Kupp said. "We will have a substantial war chest."

Sterling has made 25 acquisitions in its 15-year history.

When it was just a loose union of 18 market-specific software divisions, Sterling Commerce was known as the electronic commerce group.

The new company combines four divisions: banking systems, network services, communications software, and interchange software.

It will also have two additional units added - one to sell software to various government agencies, and an international unit to market value- added network services globally.

Officials expect the deal to be completed by the second quarter of 1996.

Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. will be the lead investment bank. Bear, Stearns & Co. and the Chicago Corp. also will underwrite the offering.

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