Strengtening its presence in the Southeast, M&I Data Services Inc. has agreed to acquire the correspondent bank processing operations of Financial Processors Inc. in Tampa.

Financial Processors is an affiliate of Barnett Technologies Inc., the information technologies subsidiary of Barnett Banks Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.

As part of the agreement, Milwaukee-based M&I will assume responsibility for all Financial Processors' current contracts, associated equipment, and 160 employees.

M&I will also take over the operation of Financial Processors item processing centers in Tampa and Miami.

Major Outsourcer

M&I Data Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Marshall & Isley Corp., provides advanced software and outsourcing to about 400 financial institutions.

M&I senior vice president Donald Layden predicted that in the coming years, opportunities will open up in the Southeast market. He noted that in 1992, M&I stepped up activity in both Florida and Georgia, converting more than 18 banks in Georgia alone.

Mr. Layden also said that M&I was attracted to Financial Processors because the company had been operating M&I software as a licensee for years.

"The staff knows our systems. They know how we operate, and it's an exceptional fit," he said.

Executives at Barnett Technologies anticipate an added benefit for Barnett Banks' correspondent clients.

"Financial Processors' clients will now have access to M&I's industry expertise and a greater number of service options. The acquisition represents a winning situation for all involved," said Jonathan J. Palmer, chief executive of Barnett Technologies.

M&I Data Services has been in the information processing business for about 29 years, and Mr. Layden said this recent acquisition has marked a significant shift in the way the company looks at itself.

"In the past, our growth strategy was never acquisition driven. We have preferred to focus on building our customer base," he said. "But this deal marks a commitment to look at other acquisition possibilities."

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