BankAmerica Corp. has agreed to sell its 20% stake in a merchant processing venture to First Data Corp., which owns the rest.

The merchant processor was set up by the former NationsBank Corp., which subsequently merged with BankAmerica Corp.

BankAmerica's decision to unload its share of Unified Merchant Services had been expected. In May, the merging banking companies announced that BA Merchant Services Inc., a subsidiary of the old BankAmerica, would be the post-merger company's principal merchant servicer.

NationsBank and First Data's predecessor, Nabanco, formed Unified Merchant Services in April 1995. The unit is one of a dozen alliances First Data Merchant Services has made with banks for merchant credit card processing.

The companies said they expect to complete the sale by yearend.

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