Nova Corp. has agreed to buy the merchant processing portfolio of the former CoreStates Financial Corp., which was acquired by First Union Corp. in April.

The deal, announced Tuesday, would give Nova an additional $3 billion in annual merchant credit card volume and 20,000 new merchant locations.

Observers said the deal, scheduled to close next month, makes sense because Nova already processes merchant credit card accounts for First Union. First Union also owns 20% of Nova.

"We are strengthening our long and successful partnership with First Union," said Edward Grzedzinksi, chairman and chief executive officer of Nova.

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