Moneygram Payment Systems Inc., the money transmission company formerly controlled by First Data Corp., was designated exclusive funds transfer provider through United Kingdom post offices.

As of early February, the Moneygram service was available in 800 locations. An additional 700 were to be operating within 30 days as part of a contract with Post Office Counters Ltd., which operates nearly 19,000 postal counters for the U.K. government.

Rob Ayers, Moneygram executive vice president responsible for sales and marketing outside North America, called the U.K. post office "an extremely important link" in the company's network of more than 18,500 agents in 85 countries.

The five-year contract supplanted one with Western Union, which First Data now owns. First Data sold off Moneygram as a condition of its 1995 merger with Western Union's former owner, First Financial Management Corp.

Moneygram also expanded its international distribution network by forming Moneygram International Ltd., of which it owns 51% and the London- based Thomas Cook Group 49%.

Thomas Cook had long been a sales agent for Moneygram. As a result of their upgraded relationship, Thomas Cook's sales force will work on signing more Moneygram outlets-primarily in Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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