A decision announced Wednesday by the U.S. Postal Service put NationsBank Corp. in a position to be one of its primary bankers.

Continuing to consolidate its banking and cash management network, the Postal Service named NationsBank its depository services provider for more than 6,000 post offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and part of Illinois, handling $6 billion of annual cash flow.

NationsBank's regional proposal beat out about 20 others and will replace about 600 banking relationships, the Postal Service said.

The banking company has separate contracts to provide disbursement and point of sale payment processing to the agency and is testing a Postal Payment card for large corporate customers.

NationsBank's January acquisition of Barnett Banks Inc. brought $375 million a month from the Postal Service's 1,400 Florida offices.

Its postal relationship would be further solidified by the pending merger with BankAmerica Corp., which last year won a contract to manage $610 million of monthly cash flow for 2,150 California post offices.

Postal Service treasurer Stephen Kearney said it set out three years ago to reduce its thousands of bank relationships to fewer than 1,000 but the total will end up below 30.

"A lot of it has gone to BankAmerica and NationsBank, which, when they merge, will cover about 11,600 post offices," Mr. Kearney said. "That is almost a third of all the post offices."

In other recent moves, the Postal Service awarded contracts for Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan to First of America Bank Corp., now part of National City Corp.; Colorado to Banc One Corp.; Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Montana to U.S. Bancorp; and New York and northern New Jersey to Bank of New York.

Smaller banks have also gotten deals. They include Community First National Bank in Wyoming and Central Carolina Bank, whose territory includes NationsBank's home base of Charlotte, N.C.

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