Advanta Corp., the small-business credit card lender with defaults almost six times worse than the industry average, reported a fourth straight loss and said its survival depends on developing a new business plan.

Advanta's ability to stay alive depends on finding "a plan for new business opportunities," the Spring House, Pa., banking company said Monday in a federal filing.

Its efforts may be complicated by demands from regulators that it stop taking deposits, the filing said. Advanta posted a second-quarter loss of $330.1 million, compared with a $4 million profit in the same period last year, the filing said.

A collapse by Advanta would be the first by a large U.S. credit card company since the recession began. Advanta cut off almost 1 million customers and said it will dismiss about half the staff, as writeoffs of bad loans more than doubled in June to 56.95%. The industry average for that month as measured by Fitch Ratings climbed to a record 10.79%.

"If they can't originate credit card loans, which is very unlikely for them going forward, the only other alternative is to pursue some sort of orderly liquidation where they can try to maximize whatever remaining value there may be for the stakeholders," Sameer Gokhale, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., said in a telephone interview.

Advanta said in May that it would unwind its securitization funding vehicle and stop lending to its almost 1 million cardholders.

In June it announced an agreement to refer some of those customers to American Express Co., and that it would receive a fee for doing so.

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