PMT Services Inc. has signed a letter of intent to acquire a 7,000- account merchant portfolio from BankCard America Inc., an independent service organization in Chicago.

The Nashville-based PMT, which markets and services electronic credit card authorization and payment systems to U.S. retailers, expects to complete the transaction within the next several weeks.

The deal will add about $400 million in annual credit card volume to PMT from BankCard America.

The acquisition "adds to the side of our merchant base, with the primary benefit being the profitability that results from this," said Edward J. Burke, a PMT spokesman.

PMT plans to convert the credit card processing of the incoming accounts to First National Bank of Omaha, its primary processing bank. The company also expects to switch the processing for about 10,000 of its existing 36,000 accounts to First National.

Richardson M. Roberts, PMT's president and chief executive, said the purchase and account conversion will increase processing volumes and strengthen the company's vendor relationships.

"As the credit card processing industry continues to consolidate, we expect to act on other suitable opportunities to purchase merchant portfolios," said Mr. Roberts.

He described PMT as "well positioned" to pursue such initiatives, citing "its size, its experience in purchasing and integrating merchant portfolios, and its relatively strong financial position."

With small retailers making up its customer base, PMT has grown through the internal development of merchant accounts as well as through the purchase of merchant portfolios. The company calls itself one of the largest independent services organizations in the United States.

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