Harcourt General announced last week that it plans to spin off its controlling interest in the Neiman Marcus Group to Harcourt General shareholders. The transaction, which is expected to be completed this fall, will create a greater distinction between Neiman's retail operation and Harcourt General's publishing group.

According to Richard Smith, chairman of Harcourt General, the spinoff will establish "two widely held, pure play, growth-oriented companies." Following the spin-off, Robert Smith and Brian Knez will become co-CEOs of Neiman Marcus and Harcourt Inc., although Knez will devote the majority of his time to Harcourt Inc. while Smith focuses on Neiman Marcus.