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  Oct 19, 1999

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Martha Stewart vs The WWF

Tuesday, October 19, 1999
NEW YORK (Staff-AP) -- Wall Street made room Tuesday for the genteel world of Martha Stewart and the crude showmanship of the World Wrestling Federation, embracing both ventures as they sold stock to the public for the first time.

The World Wrestling Federation, trading under WWFE, made a muted debut. Its shares were priced at $17 (all numbers in USD) and opened at $30 1/2, then settled back to $26 1/2. At one point, it hit a high of $35. In total, the WWF issued 10 million common shares of common stock.

The shares sold in the initial WWF public offering were all non-voting; WWF honcho Vince McMahon owns all the voting shares. The WWF has said it plans to use proceeds from the offering for working capital and other business purposes.

In an interview with CNBC Tuesday, Linda McMahon said that the programming range may expand beyond wrestling, but will certainly remain "complementary""to its current business.

Meanwhile, expansion into cyberspace recognizes the Internet's rapid growth capabilities, she said.

Shares in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which specializes in how-to information for consumers, opened at $37.25. They quickly shot to $52 a share before dropping back to the mid-$40 range by late morning.

The initial public offerings of stock, or IPOs, were eagerly awaited because both companies have heavy media involvement and have been making inroads in online marketing.

-- with files from CANOE wire services

CANOE Money: For all your financial needs