Transmedia Network Inc. is scrapping plans to acquire a credit card marketing firm headed by Stephen J. Halmos, co-founder of the defunct SafeCard Services Inc.

After announcing merger plans in August, Transmedia and its target, Reunion Group, "couldn't come to terms on the final deal," Stephen Lerch, executive vice president of Transmedia, said last week. "We parted amicably."

Miami-based Transmedia, which markets a restaurant discount card, had hoped to boost its business by pooling resources with Reunion, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company made up of former SafeCard executives.

Reunion offers a credit card registry product-which brought SafeCard to prominence-and has 300,000 customers.

The idea had been to develop new products together and to cross-sell others, Mr. Lerch said.

Transmedia's customers have been using their cards less, Mr. Lerch said. He attributed this to new competition and the booming economy, which, he said, dampens consumers' appetite for a restaurant discount card.

"The deal was one avenue for us to pursue our goal of being a better marketing company,' Mr. Lerch said, "and while the goal remains the same, it will happen from within."

In October, Transmedia hired a chief executive officer, Gene M. Henderson, to succeed founder Melvin Chasen, 69, who retired in September.

Mr. Henderson, 51, had previously been chief executive officer of DIMAC Marketing, a St. Louis direct marketing company with $200 million of revenues. Earlier he held senior posts at Epsilon Data Management Inc., a data base marketing firm in Burlington, Mass.

Mr. Henderson puts Transmedia "in a better position to hire new marketing talent," Mr. Lerch said. "He wants to build from within."

Transmedia's goal is to expand its customer base of 1.3 million and the number of restaurants-7,000 in 16 U.S. cities-that accept its card.

Executives from Reunion did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

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