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NEW YORK (AP) _ Shares of eye care company Alcon Inc. registered modest gains Thursday on their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Trading under the symbol ACL, the company's shares rose 3 percent, closing at $34.

Alcon, a unit of Switzerland's Nestle AG, priced 69.75 million shares Thursday night at $33 a piece, raising $2.3 billion.

That made it the largest public offering for 2002, but another IPO was expected to take the first place spot away Thursday night. Experts predicted Citigroup Inc.'s sale of shares in Travelers Property Casualty Corp. would raise about $3.7 billion.

Alcon researches, develops, manufactures and markets ophthalmic products, including surgical instruments and accessory products, intraocular lenses, prescription drugs and contact lens care solutions. Last year, Alcon reported $2.7 billion in sales.

The offering represents about 23 percent of its available 300 million shares. As of the close of markets Thursday, the company had a market capitalization of $10.2 billion.

In its prospectus, Alcon said it will use $2.2 billion to buy back shares from Nestle SA, which immediately after the offering held the remaining 77 percent of Alcon's outstanding common shares.

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On the Net:

http://www.alconlabs.com