IFS International Inc., a transaction software company in Troy, N.Y., has named bank automation veteran John Singleton chairman of the board.

The company said it is looking to Mr. Singleton as a source of new energy. IFS went public in 1996 but has seen its stock price languish.

IFS sells software that supports automated teller machines, point of sale equipment, smart cards, debit cards, home banking, and call centers. One of its flagship products, TPII, packages ATM and POS operations, smart cards, and voice authorizations.

Visa used TPII in its New York smart card pilot and other such projects worldwide. IFS also serves bank clients in the United States and Eastern Europe.

Though its market areas are robust, IFS' revenues have been too low for management's satisfaction. The stock price-which began trading on Nasdaq at $5 a share-has been hovering in the $2 to $3 range.

Mr. Singleton, an experienced dealmaker, said he believes corporate acquisitions will give IFS a boost. He is seeking privately held companies with revenues of $5 million to $12 million.

"We're going after these companies," Mr. Singleton said. As deals get closed, he predicted, IFS' stock "will probably double in the next 12 months or sooner."

After joining the company's board last year, Mr. Singleton helped put together a deal to buy Network Controls International of Charlotte, N.C., for $1.1 million in cash and stock. That helped increase IFS revenues 125% in the first half of its fiscal year, to $5.4 million. (Its fiscal year ends April 30.)

Mr. Singleton, 61, made his mark in the 1980s at Security Pacific Corp. in Los Angeles, before it was bought by BankAmerica Corp. With Mr. Singleton as chief technology officer, Security Pacific was among the first banking companies to treat its back-office departments as profit centers rather than as mere overhead.

The executive earned high praise for slashing data processing costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and touting what were then advanced technologies, such as image processing.

He worked from 1992 to 1996 for International Business Machines Corp.'s outsourcing subsidiary, Integrated Systems Solutions Corp.

At IFS, Mr. Singleton has set a goal of $30 million in revenue by 2000. As of Oct. 31, the company had $1.9 million in cash to finance new deals.

To increase sales, Mr. Singleton is touting the flexibility of the IFS software, which lets banks make changes to computer systems in one to two days, rather than weeks or months.

"We're competing against a lot of legacy systems," Mr. Singleton said. "We can put it on the least expensive hardware out there. So whatever hardware you really favor, we can run (the software) on it."

Mr. Singleton says he also hopes to bring management stability to IFS. David Hodge, president and chief executive officer, joined last February, and Charles Caserta, the former president and chairman, left in September. Mr. Singleton was elected chairman in November.

Mr. Hodge said Mr. Singleton's "experience and stature in the financial marketplace have prepared him well" for the challenges ahead.

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