Diebold Inc. said it is discontinuing its automated teller machine marketing and distribution agreement with International Business Machines Corp.

The companies formed an international joint venture, InterBold, in 1990 for research, development, and deployment of ATMs. Diebold, as 70% owner, supplied the machines; IBM, the marketing expertise and support staff.

The agreement will be phased out over the next 18 months. While machines will still be sold with the InterBold name and IBM could still be a seller, it will not have some of the exclusive rights it had under the InterBold agreement.

When the venture was formed, Diebold officials said they lacked the resources to sell their machines overseas. Since then, Diebold has expanded its sales staff in foreign countries, also setting up distributorships and joint ventures. Now Diebold feels ready to take on the sales and marketing tasks itself.

"In order for us to be where we are today and continue the growth of our shipment share, we do need to be a world player," said Reinoud G. Drenth, the company's vice president of worldwide marketing. Both Diebold and InterBold are in North Canton, Ohio.

"We want to be closer to the customer, to have very direct, intimate contact in terms of development of product," he said.

IBM will continue to provide customer support and other services, said David L. Ballenger, the computer giant's vice president of delivery solutions for banking, finance, and securities.

Mr. Ballenger said IBM remains committed to being a full-service provider to its customers under the venture.

Observers said the move by Diebold is a natural extension of its rapid growth. "Over the past several years, they have been able to develop a point of presence in these foreign markets," said James B. Moore of Mentis Corp., a Durham, N.C., research firm.

Mr. Moore said a trend toward simpler ATMs, which require less support staff, also would help give Diebold an edge.

It has expanded its sales and marketing forces in Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and the Pacific Rim, mainly by selling security equipment such as vaults and video cameras.

Diebold has also formed joint ventures in China and India and has acquired distributors in three countries. Yesterday, it announced the purchase of a distributor in Australia.

Matthew L. Wolfersberger, a research analyst who follows Diebold for McDonald & Co. of Cleveland, said the company is well positioned to handle its own international distribution. The company, he said, holds about $221 million in cash, which it could use to acquire new foreign distributors.

In 1996, Diebold topped the $1 billion mark in sales, nearly doubling its volume from 1992. Also last year, Diebold sold 12,000 ATMs abroad, three-quarters of them through IBM.

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