PRC Inc., a subsidiary of Black & Decker Corp., yesterday named Gary D. Kennedy, a former top executive of Oracle Systems Corp., as its new president and chief executive officer.

The appointment appears to be a key change in Black & Decker's strategy, signaling that it intends to invest in PRC rather than sell it. Until not too long ago, the subsidiary was up for sale.

Towson, Md.-based Black & Decker is the world's largest power tool manufacturer.

Kennedy, 37, left Oracle, a leading software and computer services company in Redwood City, Calif., on Sept. 1. He was president of its largest subsidiary, Oracle USA, and chairman of its Complex Systems Corp., which does computer systems integration.

He succeeds Scott Thompson, who was named chairman of PRC.

Black & Decker acquired PRC Inc. of McLean last year, along with another high-technology government contracting firm, Advanced Technology Inc. of Reston. The two companies were formerly owned by Emhart Corp., which Black & Decker bought in April 1989 for $2.7 billion.

Originally, Black & Decker, which needs to sell various divisions to pay down its debt, hoped to sell the two companies. It was disappointed, though, in the low bids for them. Black & Decker then combined the two companies and officially took them off the market.

Oracle was interested in a joint venture with PRC and Black & Decker, but that idea was dropped, Kennedy said.

"I came away impressed with the business and the people ... ," Kennedy said.

"Nolan is as convinced of the value of this business as I am," Kennedy said of Nolan D. Archibald, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Black & Decker.

Kennedy said he is confident that Black & Decker plans to develop the commercial and international sides of the business, primarily in the highly competitive area of helping companies integrate their computer systems. The hope is that commercial revenues will double in a year or two, outstripping the rate of growth in the company's main line of business, federal professional service contracts. Currently, 27 percent of PRC's $700 million in revenue is made from commercial ventures such as a computer network for real estate operations.

Kennedy left Oracle at a time when there were significant management changes because of a series of problems with the company's sales practices that in part resulted in the collapse of its stock price and a first-ever loss in earnings. "He is a hard-charging, aggressive salesman who will bend the rules to get sales. He can produce revenue," Bruce Lupatkin, senior technology analyst with Hambrecht & Quist in San Francisco, said of Kennedy.