Electronic Payment Services Inc. has offered $8 million to buy a small Louisiana-based automated teller machine network, according to a well-placed source.

The acquisition would be the first for one-year-old EPS, a joint venture by CoreStates Financial Corp., Banc One Corp., PNC Bank Corp., and Society Corp. The firm is bidding high for the network, called Gulfnet, which generated $4 million in revenues last year.

But sources say EPS is under pressure from its shareholders to increase transaction volumes and revenues. Expanding geographically would be one way to achieve that goal.

Gulfnet, which is owned by a consortium of 205 banks in the South, operates 2,066 cash machines in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. That puts it right next to EPS' southern region, which extends down to Texas.

Gulfnet is also said to be in talks with one another network, Houston-based Pulse.

A Gulfnet official and a spokesman for EPS both declined to comment on the talks.

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