National Processing Co. said it has filed a registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering.

The transaction processor, based in Louisville, Ky., plans to issue six million shares of common stock, with its parent National City Corp. expected to own at least 80% of those shares.

National Processing joins transaction processors such as First USA Paymentech, Nova Information Systems Inc., and PMT Services Inc., which recently went the IPO route. "All of these have been met with unbridled market enthusiasm," said Paul Martaus, president of Martaus & Associates, Clearwater, Fla.

Marc Abbey, a principal with First Annapolis Consulting in Maryland, said National Processing is well positioned because most of its customers - such as large department stores, airlines, and gasoline retailers - are among the fastest growing merchants in the 1990s.

Last year the company processed $120 billion in retail sales, half of which came from clearing checks, Mr. Martaus said.

National Processing became the second-largest acquirer of credit card transactions - behind First Data Corp. - by securing these high-volume merchants, Mr. Martaus said. The downside to this strategy, he said, is being price-sensitive.

To offset this price sensitivity, Mr. Martaus said, National Processing has gone on a hiring spree, adding Eric Turille, from First of Omaha Merchant Processing, and others who have extensive backgrounds with independent service organizations.

"They are now going to be the folks that will expand into small markets that are not as vulnerable to price," Mr. Martaus said.

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