First Data Corp.'s card services group has signed a letter of intent to provide processing support to Norwest Card Services' merchant credit card business.

The Norwest contract is the second this year of what First Data calls "merchant bank alliances," an outgrowth of its acquisition - completed last week - of Card Establishment Services Inc. In January, the Hackensack, N.J.-based company announced a similar deal with U.S. Bank of Oregon.

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