NEW YORK, AUG. 20 -- MasterCard International Inc. said today it was holding more talks with Cirrus Systems Inc. to buy the nation's largest network of bank automated teller machines.
Richard Woods, a spokesman for MasterCard, said "we'll know soon" whether an agreement could be reached.
Neither company would discuss a price, although The Wall Street Journal reported in today's editions that banking industry sources said it could range between $30 million and $40 million.
MasterCard made a $28 million offer for Cirrus more than a year ago, but the 14 banks that owned the ATM network then were split on whether to sell. Last spring, six of the owners, including Mellon Bank Corp. and Bank of Montreal, agreed to buy out the others for around $16 million.
Woods said his company and Cirrus have been holding talks "off and on" since the initial offer was made and that the latest round of negotiations began this past spring.
Purchasing Cirrus would greatly expand MasterCard's position in the ATM field.
The credit-card company already operates MasterTeller, which has 19,462 ATMs worldwide.
Cirrus operates 17,300 ATMs worldwide and expects to handle about 15 million transactions this year, said Henry Mundt, the company's senior vice president