Advanta Corp. of Horsham, Pa., the nation's eighth-largest credit card issuer, has hired Olaf Olaffson as vice chairman and director of its new unit Advanta Information Systems.

Mr. Olaffson, 34, was until January president and chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. He oversaw worldwide operations of the company's interactive entertainment and media-software divisions.

The new Advanta unit will specialize in entertainment and leisure- related services, Mr. Olaffson said.

"When I left (Sony), I decided not to go into the operating role in a large company," he said. At Advanta he will "focus on strategic issues in building this company" and on "providing the technology strategy and strategy in general," he said.

It's "very exciting" to have "the opportunity to build a business and an industry at the same time," Mr. Olaffson said.

Mr. Olaffson, a native of Iceland, will work for Advanta mostly out of New York. He said he will also be involved with unrelated company but would not name it.

Advanta, which has six million customers and $18 billion of managed assets, has kept quiet about the new information subsidiary, saying only that it would sell nonfinancial consumer products.

The formation of Advanta Information Services was announced last month, when the company said it had hired William J. Razzouk, a former Federal Express and America Online senior executive, to be chief executive officer.

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