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AmEx Sues Visa And MasterCard

NEW YORK-American Express Co. filed suit against Visa and MasterCard charging the two credit card giants violated federal antitrust statutes with their exclusionary practices preventing issuers of the two brands from issuing competing brands.

The AmEx suit names the two card associations and eight large banks that had representatives on the boards of the two associations: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, US Bancorp, Household Bank, Wells Fargo, Providian National Bank and USAA Federal Savings Bank. The suit follows the Supreme Court's decision not to review a lower court ruling that Visa and MasterCard polices are illegal. That action prompted Discover Financial to ask for $1 billion in damages in an antitrust suit against the two card associations.

Anti-CU Rep Steered To Power

SALT LAKE CITY-CUs are carefully watching the make-up of leadership positions in this state's legislature following recent elections.

Several members of the legislature told local media that outgoing House Speaker Marty Stephens, a former executive with Zions Bank who has led efforts in this state to tax credit unions, had contacted them and lobbied them to vote for Greg Curtis over David Ure as House Majority Leader. The officials implied that Stephens believes Ure will not be aggressive enough in attacking CUs.

Analysis by the Salt Lake City Tribune suggested, "observers feel that bank-friendly lawmakers have taken a firm grip on the steering of state policy on financial institutions."

On a related issue, the incoming president of the American Bankers Association is Harris Simmons, chairman of Zions Bank and ardent credit union critic.

CU Director Elected to Iowa House

DES MOINES, Iowa-Iowa Credit Unions scored a huge victory in helping elect Bob Kressig, Chair of John Deere Community Credit Union, to the Iowa House of Representatives.

Kressig beat incumbent Erv Dennis in what the league described as a highly competitive race, with Kressig besting Dennis by just 200 votes out of 13,000 cast

The league has been wanting to get a CU leader elected to the state legislature ever since the bank-backed tax hike on credit unions was just narrowly defeated in 2003.

"With several practicing bankers in the Iowa Legislature willing to disadvantage credit unions, it was essential for credit unions to work hard to elect candidates who favor our industry," said Justin Hupfer, Vice President of Government Affairs and Internal Counsel of the Iowa Credit Union League.

ICUL also took an active role in ousting incumbent Rep. Gene Manternach, who supported a tax increase and wrote "misleading editorials" about CUs, the league said.

CU24 Doubles National Footprint

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-The Credit Union 24 has singed a deal with Lynk Systems, Inc., that will more than double the credit union-owned network's reach to more than 65,000 ATMs across the country.

Atlanta-based Lynk is a full-service provider of electronic payment processing services and is a processor of ATMs. Lynk is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Harland Buys FI's Processing Biz

ATLANTA-Harland Financial Solutions, a wholly owned unit of John H. Harland Co., has acquired Fair Isaac Corp.'s core data processing business, which will be combined with the company's core processing operations for 1,000 banks and credit unions.

The operation, based in Heathrow, Fla., includes the Phoenix System that operates in both Windows NT and Unix environments, and the Phoenix Internet Banking System, known as IBANK, and the TradeWind international trade finance management system. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

S1 Enters ATM Management

ATLANTA-S1 Corp., said it has agreed t acquire Britain-based Mosaic Software Holdings Ltd, a provider of ATM technology for 210 financial institutions, including more than two dozen credit unions.

S1 said it will pay $37 million up-front for Mosaic Software Holdings and as much as $15 million in earn-out payments based on certain financial targets for the company's fiscal year, ending May 31, 2005. S1 provides financial services for more than 4,000 financial institutions.

The dividends will be paid to the regional FHLB's 345 member institutions, including 71 credit unions.

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