Equifax Inc., an Atlanta-based credit agency, said it expects to boost its presence in the payment business with the acquisition of Goldleaf Technologies Inc.

Goldleaf, based in a Hahira, Ga., makes software for automated clearing house, electronic data interchange, interactive voice response, and Internet banking applications.

Terms of the deal, announced Wednesday and expected to close this month, were not disclosed. Equifax's stock price closed at TK Friday, up/down TK for the week. It has risen about 10% in the last six weeks.

David Petersen, president and chief executive officer at Goldleaf, said the time was ripe to expand the marketing of its wares, which include wholesale and retail electronic banking technology.

"This was an unbelievable opportunity," Mr. Petersen said. "All of our employees are proud that Equifax would consider us."

Goldleaf, with $4 million of annul revenue, would add a community banking dimension to Equifax's rapidly growing payment services arm, Card Solutions.

That unit, which sells card-issuing and merchant-processing software, contributes about 25% of Equifax's $1.3 billion in annual revenue and is growing at an estimated 15% annual clip.

The Goldleaf acquisition "enhances our capabilities in serving the community bank sector," said Larry Towe, senior vice president and general manager of Equifax Card Solutions. Goldleaf has 1,500 bank and credit union customers.

James Marks, analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, said Equifax has access to many more potential clients through its card issuing and processing relationships with the Independent Bankers Association of America and the Credit Union National Association.

"Equifax is trying to extend the product set it can offer," Mr. Marks said.

Mr. Petersen said Goldleaf had been looking for ways to fund product upgrades and new marketing efforts. Soon after Equifax officially made contact, he said, it became apparent the acquisition was the best way for Goldleaf to get access to the capital it needed.

Equifax's Card Solutions unit also announced the acquisition last week of a collections business from Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif.

Computer Sciences sold the $40 million unit in order to focus more closely on the computer services market.

Mr. Marks said Equifax, whose collections operations generate $100 million each year, is well positioned in that fragmented business. He predicted that a shakeout is looming. Equifax aims to be among the survivors.

As the business gets concentrated into the hands of fewer players, operations are likely to get more centralized.

In addition, technological advances should streamline the collections process. Mr. Marks said the development of public record data bases will make "skip tracing, which is the essence of collections, much easier."

Mr. Marks projected Equifax's earnings per share will grow at a compound annual rate of 18%. He maintains a "buy" rating on the company's stock and has a 12-month price target of $39 per share.

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