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DENVER – First Data Corporation and Concord EFS sealed their merger on February 26 after a majority of Memphis, Tennessee-based Concord stockholders voted in favor of the deal. First Data stockholders had already approved the deal. “We are delighted to complete the merger between First Data and Concord. The new company will bring significant offerings to the payments industry, including more choices at the point of sale, to benefit consumers, merchants and banks alike,” said First Data Chairman and CEO Charlie Fote. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the merger approval process and look forward to delivering on our promise of bringing more choice, voice and innovation to the industry through the strategic integration of these two businesses.” The companies had announced their intent to merge almost a year ago, on April 2 2003, and almost immediately ran into trouble. Their problem lay less in their own operations and more in what their subsidiaries controlled. First Data owns 64% of the NYCE Corporation, a major ATM and EFT network headquartered in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City and Concord was the sole owner of the STAR Network, another ATM and EFT giant. A merger between the two parent companies, industry experts observed, could mean that close to 75% of the nation’s ATM and EFT transactions would run through one firm. Other industry players, such as Houston-based PULSE, cried foul, along with other interested parties and some community groups, and in the end the U.S. Justice Department’s Anti-trust Division sued to block the merger on anti-trust grounds. After first asserting that it would fight the suit, First Data agreed on the eve of the trial to sell its majority interest in NYCE so that the merger could move forward. The company put NCYE up for sale but, so far, has found no buyers. First Data still owns the majority interest but has agreed not to treat NYCE as a subsidiary until a buyer is found. The breakdown of the potential merger was confirmed earlier this year when NYCE announced that it filed suit against STAR over long simmering contract disputes. -

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