New ATM Surcharge Study

Study on ATM Usage Shows That Relatively Few Pay Majority of Optional Surcharges; Most Consumers Pay None; Research Also Reveals That Banking Relationships Are Unaffected

Research findings on consumer usage patterns of automated teller machines (ATMs) where surcharges exist show that a relatively small percentage of consumers pay the majority of the fees, those who do pay choose to at their option, and the vast majority of the public pays no convenience fees at all.

A 1997 study conducted over seven southern and southwestern states by Rice University Marketing Professor Dr. Richard R. Batsell through Analytica, a Houston-based research organization, combined with usage information collected by PULSE EFT Association from its Texas customers, revealed the following:

— Among 1,000 adult consumers, the convenience access fees would have been paid by barely 30 percent.

— Almost 70 percent of adults have never paid such fees.

— About 18 percent of cardholders pay 60 percent of the total convenience fees collected.

— Of those who have paid convenience access fees, only 27 percent say they have paid more than $1. That translates to only 8.5 percent of the total adult sample.

— An overwhelming majority of ATM users, more than 80 percent, say they avoid ATMs where they know convenience fees are charged.

— Nearly 90 percent of ATM users feel they are sufficiently informed by their financial institutions on the ATM fees they are charged.

The research also showed that among those who use ATMs, 61.2 percent of consumers judged the fees they paid to be either “just right,” “a bargain,” or “a real bargain.”

On a question regarding the effect of convenience fees on banking relationships, the study shows that fewer than 2 percent of consumers ever have switched their accounts to another financial institution either solely or partly because of such fees.

The Analytica research was commissioned by PULSE EFT Association, one of the nation’s oldest and largest shared electronic funds transfer networks.

Batsell, who does extensive consumer research on ATMs and point-of sale (POS) installations, said that the findings demonstrate that the public is making informed choices.

“It is evident that the free market is functioning with regard to ATM use,” he said. “The data shows that consumers are clearly aware of their options, and they adjust their behavior when presented with the fees. Those who want to avail themselves of the extra convenience do so with frequency. And the majority who avoid ATMs which impose convenience fees obviously seek out and take advantage of the other options available to them.”

Those choices include the use of non-charging ATMs, the availability of getting cash back with no charge at point-of-sale locations and conventional banking and check cashing options.

Stan Paur, president of PULSE, said that the finding of the mass of empirical data collected by his company surprised him.

“It is understandable that some are concerned about the impact of these fees,” he said. “When our association was advised in a judicial proceeding that PULSE should allow optional convenience fees, we presumed there would be disastrous results for our network.

“Instead, those revenues have fueled the enormous growth in ATM deployment at nonfinancial institution sites which would not be economically feasible without such fees. This includes airports, sports facilities, shopping malls, hospitals, supermarkets and gas stations. As a result, consumers are enjoying unprecedented convenience in obtaining cash almost on impulse.”

Paur said that the growth in ATM deployment is not limited to any one segment of the financial services marketplace. He cites the case of a small town banker who initiated a 50 cent convenience fee to help him turn a money-losing customer service into a break-even proposition. He said that the banker reported to him several months later that the convenience fees had enabled him to install two more ATMs to better serve his rural area customers. Paur noted that the 700-member Independent Bankers Association of Texas has formally endorsed allowing ATM owners to choose whether to levy such fees.

He also pointed out that more than 40 percent of ATMs sold last year were to operators outside the financial institutions industry. Diebold, Incorporated, a leading manufacturer of ATM equipment, estimates investment in technology and facilities of more than $617 million for 1996 alone, with that total approaching almost $2 billion over the past four years.

PULSE, based in Houston, is a not-for-profit association with more than 2,000 members in eight states, ranging from banking giants to independent community banks, credit unions and savings and loans. It serves participants in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas with more than 30,000 ATMs and 122,000 PULSE PAY point-of-sale terminals.

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CyberGold Signs Online PC File Backup Firm

Atrieva(tm) Corp., provider of an online PC file back up and retrieval service, announced today that it will pay people for their time.

CyberGold members will earn $1 for reviewing information about the Atrieva Service and an additional $4 for using the service over a one month free trial period.

The Atrieva Service allows subscribers to send their files over the Web for safekeeping. It’s automatic, easy, and secure. New subscribers simply download the service at http://www.atrieva.com, then subscribe electronically, or via the telephone at 1-888-ATRIEVA. And now, Atrieva Corp. pays CyberGold members to use the service. Any new subscriber to the Atrieva Service can use the service free of charge for one month and begin backing up data simply by selecting files, entire directories, or both, for safe storage and easy access.

Once selected, files are scanned for viruses, and the data is compressed and encrypted for transmission to the Atrieva SafeStation(tm), a site offering complete protection of the data. The frequency and timing of backups can be set to meet subscriber needs, allowing for scheduled backups any time of day or night, as well as file backup on subscriber command. Data is stored on highly reliable, redundant disk arrays, and Atrieva Corp. maintains tape backup of the data offsite. Atrieva customer support has an Emergency Response Team available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with any problems with backing up or accessing PC files.

CyberGold is an Internet-based electronic currency that rewards consumers for their attention. Consumers earn CyberGold by viewing ads, volunteering information, completing purchase transactions, and fulfilling other advertiser requests. Because CyberGold is a one-to-one cash equivalent, it can be, among other things, transferred to a bank account, donated to a non-profit organization, or credited to a personal Visa card.

“Every 15 seconds a computer hard drive crashes, taking important information with it,” said Al Higginson, CEO of Atrieva Corp. “The majority of home and business users have no effective backup plan, and we need to reach them before disaster strikes. CyberGold offers us the perfect opportunity to reach and reward its members, who are typically progressive, inquisitive people.”

“We are delighted that Atrieva Corp. understands the value of the attention of CyberGold members and generously rewards them with $4,” said Nat Goldhaber, CEO of CyberGold.

CyberGold members can subscribe to the Atrieva Service immediately. The Atrieva Service is also available through Atrieva Corp. as a risk-free, 30-day trial period at no charge. Pricing after the trial period is $14.95 per month for unlimited storage.

CyberGold is a privately held company in Berkeley, California. It was founded by Nat Goldhaber with backing from Jay Chiat, Regis McKenna, and Peter Sealey. For more information, visit .

Atrieva Corp., headquartered in Seattle, provides easy, safe, and valuable online PC file backup and retrieval. Founded in 1993, Atrieva is backed by private and venture funding. For additional information, contact Atrieva at 1-888-ATRIEVA or visit .

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Hi-Tech Names Signature Exec CEO

The Hi-Tech Group — a privately-held, provider of direct response merchandise and club services has announced the appointment of Alan F. Portelli as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Portelli had previously served as Executive Vice President of Finance and Admininstration of The Signature Group, Mr. Portelli was the Chief Financial Officer and also had primary responsibility for acquisitions, data base marketing and the Dining à la Card business unit, as well as other administrative duties. Prior to joining The Signature Group in 1989 as Senior Vice President/Finance, Mr. Portelli had been employed by Montgomery Ward for eleven years, where he held positions of increasing responsibility in finance and planning and analysis. He served as an audit supervisor with Touche Ross & Co. before joining Montgomery Ward.

Mr. Portelli earned a Bachelor of Science degree (1969) and a Master of Science degree (1970) in Accounting from the University of Illinois in Champaign. He earned his CPA certification in 1969 and was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Mr. Portelli currently resides in Naperville.

For more than 30 years, The Hi-Tech Group has grown its business in the direct response marketing of merchandise and travel and motor clubs, as well as providing telemarketing services and specialized data processing. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, The Hi-Tech Group is the leading direct response provider of specialized merchandise for the oil industry. With four locations in Chicagoland, The Hi-Tech Group has annual sales through credit card issuers in excess of $100 million.

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Sluggish Third Quarter

As CardWeb, Inc.’s ‘CardData’ third quarter portfolio survey continues, it appears that many issuers realized little, if any, growth in card loans and an actual decline in the number of active accounts since the second quarter. An analysis of nine issuers with receivables in excess of $1 billion, representing about 10% of the industry, shows a 3Q/97 contraction in receivables of 1.4% versus a gain of 2.7% for 3Q/96. Active accounts slipped 1.5% compared to a 1.1% gain last year. CardData’s quarterly portfolio surveys covering receivables, volume, gross accounts, active accounts and cards-in-force, are published in Bankcard Update.

ISSUER 3QRECV 2QRECV CHG 3QACT 2QACT CHG
Household $16.0b $16.6 -3.9% 7.3m 7.5m -2.7%
Wells Fargo $7.4b $7.4b +0.1% 3.7m 3.8m -2.6%
Wachovia $5.4b $5.4 +1.2% 2.1m 2.1m +1.0%
Bank NY $4.2b $4.1b +0.8% 1.8m 1.8m -2.9%
USAA FSB $3.6b $3.5b +1.6% 1.7m 1.6m +1.5%
Travelers $1.2b $1.2b NC 0.5m 0.5m +1.4%
Norwest $1.2b $1.2b +1.6% 0.7m 0.7m +0.7%
Crestar $1.1b $1.2b -5.1% 0.5m 0.5m -6.5%
Mercantile $1.1b $1.1b -4.7% 0.5m 0.5m -6.7%
TOTALS
3Q RECV: $41,095,287,528 3Q ACTIVES: 18,767,298
2Q RECV: $41,675,997,994 2Q ACTIVES: 19,059,690
CHANGE: -1.39% -1.5%
Source: CardData/Bankcard Update

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Calif Bankruptcy Down

Bankruptcy filings declined slightly in California during the third quarter, ending a three-year series of increases, a public records information service reported.

Third-quarter filings totaled 50,650, up 13.4 percent from 44,565 for the same period last year, and down 5.5 percent from 53,624 for this year’s second quarter, according to CDB Infotek.

Bankruptcy filings in the state followed a nationwide trend of increases and rose consistently from quarter to quarter starting in fourth-quarter 1993 with 26,625, eventually doubling in volume by this year’s second quarter.

“One reason for the increase of the past few years is that declaring bankruptcy doesn’t have the negative impact on personal finances that it use to. That shift in underlying factors may be playing itself out now,” said Rick Rozar, CDB president and CEO.

CDB Infotek, a ChoicePoint company, provides on-line access to public records nationwide. In addition to bankruptcy information, the company provides access to court records, real estate records, business filings and more. The numbers above include Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, the vast majority of which are personal.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings totaled 349 during the third quarter, down 15.9 percent from 415 for both the previous quarter and for last year’s third quarter. Chapter 11 filings are business reorganizations.

Residents of Riverside and San Bernardino counties declared bankruptcy at the highest rate, relative to population. Marin County residents had the lowest rate, CDB reported.

Number of Chapter 7 & Chapter 13
bankruptcy filings in California

County/Region 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr Percent
1997 1997 Change

Los Angeles 16,836 15,990 -5.0%
Orange 4,582 4,231 -7.7%
San Diego 4,739 4,512 -4.8%
Riverside 3,119 2,979 -4.5%
San Bernardino 3,597 3,476 -3.4%
Ventura 1,324 1,188 -10.3%
Southern California Total(a) 34,353 32,540 -5.3%

Alameda 1,870 1,745 -6.7%
Contra Costa 1,402 1,342 -4.3%
Marin 227 198 -12.8%
Napa 109 111 1.8%
San Francisco 803 732 -8.8%
San Mateo 757 696 -8.1%
Santa Clara 1,801 1,805 0.2%
Solano 728 709 -2.6%
Sonoma 552 491 -11.1%
Bay Area Total 8,249 7,829 -5.1%

El Dorado 222 219 -1.4%
Fresno 963 909 -5.6%
Kern 994 875 -12.0%
Placer 365 316 -13.4%
Sacramento 2,339 2,185 -6.6%
San Joaquin 785 751 -4.3%
Stanislaus 734 662 -9.8%
Tulare 420 413 -1.7%
Yolo 168 161 -4.2%
Central Valley Total(a) 7,587 7,110 -6.3%

Monterey 657 642 -2.3%
San Luis Obispo 343 336 -2.0%
Santa Barbara 508 424 -16.5%
Santa Cruz 203 179 -11.8%
Central Coast Total(a) 1,711 1,581 -7.6%

Northern California Total(a) 1,155 1,057 -8.5%
Sierra/Foothills Total(a) 569 533 -6.3%

Statewide 53,624 50,650 -5.5%

(a) includes additional counties

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Cyberflex 2.0 Core Released

VISA has endorsed Java as the most flexible, secure and economical technology for its members. The ‘Open Platform’ will first focus on fundamental banking applications such as credit/debit and stored value. Future applications will include loyalty programs, home banking, and telecommunications services. Schlumberger also announced Friday the release of its second Java card product ‘Cyberflex 2.0 Core’. Schlumberger says the new card implements functionalities required for multiple applications and increases the amount of rewritable memory by more than 20%.

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Open Java Card

Following Friday’s announcement of the release of ‘Java Card API 2.0’, Schlumberger said today it has been selected by VISA International to develop a new generation of multiple-application smart cards based on Java. VISA has endorsed Java as the most flexible, secure and economical technology for its members. The ‘Open Platform’ will first focus on fundamental banking applications such as credit/debit and stored value. Future applications will include loyalty programs, home banking, and telecommunications services. Schlumberger also announced Friday the release of its second Java card product ‘Cyberflex 2.0 Core’. Schlumberger says the new card implements functionalities required for multiple applications and increases the amount of rewritable memory by more than 20%.

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Internet Banking for Community Banks

SPARAK Financial Systems and nFront today announced a licensing agreement that will allow community banks throughout the United States to offer secure financial services on the Internet. SPARAK, a Fargo, North Dakota-based core processing provider for community banks, will incorporate nFront’s flagship product, nHome(tm), as its Internet banking solution. Under the agreement, SPARAK will outsource Internet data processing to nFront’s data center in Athens, Georgia.

This agreement enables SPARAK to offer its 210 community bank customers full-service Internet banking, allowing their customers to open new accounts, apply for loans, view account balances and history, transfer funds, pay bills electronically, view personal information on record at the bank, generate reports based on customer activity, download Active Statements into personal financial management software, interact with customer representatives via e-mail, and have access to a bank that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“SPARAK is committed to delivering the latest technology to our customers, and we believe that Internet banking is an extremely valuable tool for community banks,” said Steve Anderson, Director of Marketing and co-Founder of SPARAK. “We selected nFront as our solution because of their Internet banking product and their knowledge of the banking industry. While there are a number of companies in the market talking Internet banking, nFront is delivering. By combining our skills, we will have the best solution for our customers.”

Tripp Rackley, President of nFront, said, “SPARAK will jointly market nHome on the national level while providing their customers a completely secure and customizable Internet banking solution. nFront is looking forward to a long prosperous relationship with SPARAK and working with their team of professionals.”

The first of SPARAK’s community banks to take advantage of the nHome offering is Bank of Versailles. Located in Versailles, Missouri, the bank has an asset size of $140 million and three branches. Bank of Versailles considers itself a “niche” bank that mostly targets retirees living near the Lake of the Ozarks region.

“We try to utilize technology whenever available so as to operate more efficiently,” said David Baumgartener, Executive Vice President of Bank of Versailles. “We hope to maximize our employee productivity by allowing our customers to access their accounts via the Internet.”

“We have had a good relationship with SPARAK and feel that their partnership with nFront provides us with an opportunity to expand our market at a fairly low cost and without having to add staff,” continued Baumgartener.

SPARAK was formed in 1984. The company began as a software house providing in-house software development and support to banks using NCR computers. Today SPARAK develops and markets the top rated SPARAK 3000(r) Software System (along with computer and proof hardware manufactured by NCR and others) to community banks across the United States.

SPARAK 3000(r) is a complete account processing system that includes a unique customer CIF database linking all banking modules to include DDA, Savings, C/Ds, Loans and G/L.

nFront provides full service Internet banking solutions for community banks with nHome, its premier Internet Banking software. From opening accounts to paying bills or transferring funds, nHome supports all the functionality of traditional brick and mortar branches and gives community banks the opportunity to do customer specific marketing. In addition, customers will have unlimited banking hours and more personalized service in a secure banking environment. nHome supports the highest level of data encryption available today and runs on the Windows NT operating system. nFront is also a Microsoft Solution Provider. Founded in 1996, nFront owns the registration rights of the www.banking.com domain name.

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Wachovia Opens New CC Center

Wachovia Bank Card Services today announced plans to open a credit card customer service center in Chesapeake, Va.

The center will be located in the Crossways facility at 1400 Crossways Boulevard, currently occupied by some Central Fidelity operational functions. The credit card center is expected to employ more than 100 by the end of 1998 and initially will occupy approximately one-fourth of the 50,000-square-foot building. Assuming consummation of its mergers with Central Fidelity Banks Inc. and Jefferson Bankshares Inc., Wachovia Bank Card Services expects to begin operations in Chesapeake in the first quarter of 1998.

“The decision to establish this center is indicative of the growth of our credit card function and the need for additional capacity for providing customer service to our credit card customers,” said Wachovia Chief Executive L.M. Baker Jr. “We are pleased to be able to locate the center in Chesapeake where we will be able to provide continuing employment opportunities for some employees of Central Fidelity and Jefferson.”

Wachovia expects to receive all required approvals and to complete mergers with Central Fidelity and Jefferson by year-end, and to merge their subsidiary banks into Wachovia Bank, N.A., effective March 20, 1998.

Wachovia Bank Card Services is a subsidiary of Wachovia Corporation (NYSE: WB), an interstate banking company with dual headquarters in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, N.C. Wachovia is the 20th largest bank holding company in the U.S. with assets totaling $48.5 billion. Upon completion of its mergers with Central Fidelity, Jefferson and 1st United Bancorp of Boca Raton, Fla., Wachovia will be the 17th largest bank holding company in the country with assets exceeding $60 billion. U.S. Banker magazine recently rated Wachovia Corporation the No. 1 banking organization in the U.S. for 1996 among banking organizations with assets of more than $25 billion.

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Sears Card Concerns

Sears’ card loans rose to $27 billion for the third quarter compared to $25 billion for third quarter 1996 but the company is very concerned about adverse industry trends as it heads into the fourth quarter. The company said yesterday: “Sears continues to experience an increase in the rate of delinquencies and charge-offs while a number of other credit card issuers have recently reported a flattening in their charge-off rates. If our delinquency and uncollectible accounts could have a significant adverse effect on the company’s overall operating results in future periods. We are taking steps to mitigate the effect of these trends on earnings, and are assessing their expected magnitude and duration.”

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Hypercom/NOVUS Deal

Hypercom Inc., the world’s largest independent supplier of point-of-sale (POS) hardware, software and network payment automation products, has signed as agreement with NOVUS Services, the third largest credit card network in the U.S., to deploy and service Hypercom terminals.

“The agreement is an important piece of our overall strategic plan aimed at keeping NOVUS Services on the leading edge of service and Convenience for our customers,” noted Ken Williams, director, link Services for NOVUS Network.

For Hypercom Inc., which is steadily gaining market share as a global supplier of POS technology, “the agreement with NOVUS Services marks another milestone in our respective expansion efforts,” said Al Irato, President and CEO of Hypercom.

NOVUS Services

NOVUS Services, a business unit of Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co., operates the Discover Card, the NOVUS Network and a growing number of new card brands accepted at all NOVUS Network locations.

NOVUS Network

The NOVUS Network, the third largest credit card network in the United States, consists of merchant and cash access locations that accept the Discover Card and other NOVUS Card brands.

Hypercom Inc.

Hypercom Inc. is a leading supplier of point-of-sale (POS) hardware, software and network payment automation products. For more than a decade, Hypercom has been providing solutions for delivering and processing financial transactions which enable end users to easily add evolving payment applications and expand their POS networks. Headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, Hypercom markets its products in more than 50 countries via 65 global distributors. John Marshall is Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Hypercom. Hypercom’s Internet address is [www.hypercom.com][1]

[1]: http://www.hypercom.com

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GGP & VISA Expand Agreement

![][1] General Growth Properties (NYSE: GGP), one of the nation’s leading shopping center companies, today announced it has entered into a new marketing partnership with Pepsi-Cola Company and an expanded multi-year, multi-program marketing partnership with Visa U.S.A.

“These innovative Pepsi and Visa U.S.A marketing partnerships not only will result in greater value for our customers, increase mall traffic and build business for all involved parties, but significantly benefit local communities and other national causes,” said John Bucksbaum, GGP’s executive vice president. “They are ‘first-of-their-kind,’ in-mall initiatives that make sense for all three companies.”

In addition to placing Pepsi vendors in key GGP shopping malls across the country, this new agreement allows both Pepsi and GGP to combine forces on national and local marketing and promotional campaigns. To officially kick off the partnership, Pepsi will support GGP’s “Natural Santa Experience” and a food court sales promotion this holiday season. GGP’s naturally-bearded santas will present over two million Christmas cups to children. The association offers enhanced opportunities for Pepsi bottlers and GGP malls to develop local marketing campaigns. The agreement also includes the new “one for the road” initiative where Pepsi vending machines will be placed at GGP mall exits.

“We are very proud of our association with GGP,” said Mairead Martinez, director, New Business, Pepsi-Cola Company. “In our never-ending efforts to connect with consumers in a meaningful way, this agreement further enables us to reach our consumers not only where they live, but also, where they spend leisure time and shop.”

GGP Partnership Initiative with Visa U.S.A Significantly Expanding

The expanded partnership with Visa U.S.A. will add six custom-designed programs that each organization will cross-promote. The first mall program, the NFL Ultimate Week of Football, began on September 1, when GGP shoppers who used their Visa cards(R) began receiving a chance to win mall gift certificates and a grand prize of a trip to Super Bowl XXXII, and the 1998 Pro Bowl. This holiday season, GGP also will be continuing a free holiday gift wrapping service for Visa card users, as well as supporting Visa’s national “Read Me a Story” children’s literacy initiative.

“Visa is excited to continue our relationship with General Growth Properties through this new multi-year partnership,” said Bruce McElhinney, senior vice president of retail marketing at Visa U.S.A. “This marketing alliance is a win-win situation. GGP will benefit from promotions that incorporate other Visa relationships such as the NFL and the Olympics, while Visa will be able to effectively market to GGP’s broad range of customers.”

In September, GGP, along with several additional mall developers, introduced a new, co-branded “Mall VIP” Visa card targeted at frequent shoppers. Shoppers using this Visa card at participating malls are rebated two percent of the value of their purchases in the form of mall gift certificates, while non-mall purchases earn a one percent rebate.

Initially a seasonal program, GGP is now entering the third year of its free holiday gift wrapping service for shoppers using their Visa cards at GGP shopping centers. “The impact of this program last year was impressive,” said Charlie Graves, GGP’s vice president of Consumer Marketing. “GGP wrapped more than $25 million worth of gifts, while Visa converted 37 percent of the program participants to using their Visa card. It was a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially our customers. This year’s gift wrap program will benefit local charities.”

“These partnerships build business by successfully uniting brand marketing initiatives with GGP’s core assets and will reward our mall customers with added value,” added Graves. With more than one billion customer visits annually, Graves predicts more companies will follow the lead of Pepsi and Visa U.S.A.

Graves’ newly created Consumer Marketing department at General Growth is charged with forging additional partnerships in the future. He envisions America’s brands embracing this new medium for face-to-face communication.

The Partners

General Growth Properties is one of the oldest, largest and most experienced shopping center owners, developers and managers in the United States. It currently has ownership interests in, or management responsibilities for, more than 119 shopping malls in 37 states, encompassing approximately 92 million square feet. This includes a mall recently opened in Waterbury, Conn., and another scheduled to open in July, 1998, in Coralville (Iowa City), Iowa. For more information, visit the company website at [http://www.generalgrowth.com.][2]

Pepsi-Cola Company, based in Somers, New York, is a division of PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP).

Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including 370,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [http://www.visa.com.][3]

[1]: /graphic/visa/visalogo.gif
[2]: http://www.generalgrowth.com
[3]: http://www.visa.com

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