Bantek West Inc. and Efmark Premium Armored, two privately held pioneers in the ATM service space, announced plans to merge Jan. 4.

According to a news release, the merger is expected to pair the strengths and resources of both companies. Efmark customers will gain access to a broader service portfolio, including branch coin and cash services and maintenance of equipment such as bank-system computers, teller-cash dispensers, recyclers and teller/platform-automation systems. Bantek customers will benefit from Efmark’s broad maintenance and service reach, hardware sales, cash management and technical expertise.

“Our merger with Bantek will enable us to continue to keep pace with increasing growth and consolidation in the financial services industry,” said Mark Hoppe, Efmark’s president and chief executive officer. “As financial institutions seek cost efficiencies in their growing ATM networks, our combined company will be in a unique position to offer an end-to-end solution to meet their every need.”

The merger creates a national footprint of 75 armored branches located in 43 states, capable of servicing the continental United States. The new company will have a national infrastructure of more than 2,500 employees.

The Edgewater Funds, a Chicago-based private equity firm that is a minority shareholder in Bantek, is expected to help fund the merger and become a minority shareholder in the combined company. The companies will operate as wholly owned subsidiaries of a newly formed holding company that will continue to be owned by both companies’ shareholders.

The holding company is expected to adopt a new name and identity in early 2006. All services will be marketed and sold solely under that new name shortly thereafter.

“Bantek joining forces with Efmark creates an unparalleled value proposition for financial institutions,” said Fred Wich, vice chairman of Bantek. “While the companies have had the same strategic vision, our strengths complement one another, and each company brings something new to the table, making us better equipped to deliver the benefits of a true single-source provider.”