The operations subsidiary of Republic Bank of New York has signed a seven-year outsourcing contract with Electronic Data Systems Corp. for check processing services.

Fiserv Inc. has been processing for the New York City bank since early this year, when it bought the item processing business of the previous vendor, Alltel Information Services Inc.

It was unclear whether Alltel's sale of the subsidiary, called Document Management Solutions, enabled $42 billion-asset Republic to reopen bidding on the contract. Bank officials were not available for comment Friday.

Dallas-based EDS already manages the bank's data communications network, and Little Rock-based Alltel continues to manage its data center operations.

As part of the new agreement, EDS will build a new check processing center in Pavonia, N.J., to handle Republic's East Coast check volume. Existing EDS facilities in Florida and California will handle the checks coming from Republic branches there. The planned New Jersey facility may also be equipped with check image processing technology from International Business Machines Corp., EDS officials added.

"We're able to deliver what no one else can: standard products on a common (IBM) platform at multiple locations," said Dan Talbott, managing director of payment services at EDS. "For customers like Republic, with branches and customers spread across the country, that can be an important competitive differentiator."

"Our objective is to gain access to EDS' state-of-the-art technology, including the full gamut of image-based services," said John Scopaz, chairman of Republic Services Corp., the bank's operations subsidiary. "We are confident our partnership with EDS provides us with the flexibility to apply advanced technology, when needed, to grow our business and sustain our emphasis on cost-effective operations."

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