Capital One Bank, Lynn Pike is grappling with the credit crunch like everyone else. But she also has a much more elemental question to address: can two recently acquired banks with wildly divergent geographies and cultures find happiness together under the organizational umbrella of a highly analytical credit-card giant?

It's more than a fleeting question. In one corner stands the old North Fork Bancorp, a New York business bank acquired in 2006 that was run largely by the wit and wile of former Chairman John Kanas; in the other is 2005 acquiree Hibernia, the leading consumer bank in New Orleans that also boasts a strong Texas presence. Above it all is Capital One, a $151 billion-asset card company known for slicing and dicing the numbers like scientists in a lab.

Pike, 52, was hired in August 2007 from Bank of America to pull the pieces together, and by most accounts is on the right track. In the first half of 2008, her banking unit reported net income of $142.9 million-down sharply from $270.8 million in the same period of 2007, but respectable given the climate. Net banking charge-offs and non-performers, at 0.34 percent and 0.81 percent respectively, have remained better than industry averages.

Over the past year, Pike has overseen a systems integration of the banking operations, re-branded them all under Capital One Bank's new red, white and blue banner, and launched an aggressive marketing campaign. She's also forged a new organizational structure that seeks to mesh national product expertise with local delivery capabilities.

What comes next? Capital One has twice as many card customers in New York as banking clients, says Scott Valentin, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. Part of Pike's charge is to boost cross-selling efforts between the two sides. Now that the systems conversion is complete, "it's time to see if they can convert the customers," he says.

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