National Data Buys Signet Card Unit

Signet Banking Corp. announced this week that it has sold its merchant credit card processing business to National Data Payment Systems Inc., a subsidiary of National Data Corp.

The unit sold, part of Signet Bank/Virginia, handles the processing of card receipts deposited by 8,000 merchant locations. An arrangement with National Data Payment Systems provides that retailers continue to make deposits at Signet locations.

Though the sale price was not disclosed, Signet said it expects a pretax gain of about $8.5 million.

David K. Hunt, senior executive vice president at the $11.5 billion-asset bank, said the sale of the merchant processing business would enable Signet to expand its card-issuing business. "The merchant business ... is a scale business that is clearly worth more to someone with higher volumes."

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