Peerless Group Inc., a provider of hardware and software to community banks, has gone public, raising about $12 million for corporate purposes.

The Richardson, Tex., company issued 2.44 million shares last week in an initial public offering. The stock was priced at $8 per share; nearly 60% was sold by the company, while the rest was offered by selling stockholders. The offering raised $19.2 million overall, of which $11.52 million went to the company.

Peerless designs, sells, and installs data processing and check imaging software for community banks and credit unions. Its stock closed at $8 Friday.

"This was always part of our long-term strategy," said Rod Armstrong, chairman and chief executive of Peerless. Going public will "take us to the next level."

Paige Chadwick, vice president at the company, said it hopes to use the capital to "expand into the outsourcing business." A prospectus said the company had signed a three-year outsourcing contract in June for image- based check and customer statement services to an undisclosed bank. The capital will also be used to pay off about $3 million of debt.

Peerless' 1995 net income was nearly $2 million, or 49 cents per share. The company employs 145 people and lists 226 community banks and 105 credit unions as customers.

The deal was managed by Dain Bosworth Inc., Minneapolis, and George K. Baun & Co., Kansas City, Mo.

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