MONETT, Mo. - Jack Henry & Associates on Monday said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Symitar Systems, Inc., a processor of credit union transactions, for $44 million in cash.

The deal, which could close within 45 days, is part of a bid to strengthen Jack Henry's presence in the credit union market. Jack Henry officials said there are 2,500 of these institutions that have more than $25 million of assets. Jack Henry has 90 of these as customers, and San Diego-based Symitar has 237.

Jack Henry is a vendor of core banking software and outsourcing services to community banks, with more than 2,800 financial institutions as customers.

"With this acquisition, we will substantially increase our presence in the credit union market with a high-quality line of products," said Michael Henry, chairman and chief executive officer of Jack Henry.

Symitar had revenue of $33 million in 1999. Its 230 employees will continue to work from San Diego as a division of Jack Henry.

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