American Express Co. announced a reshuffling of its top executives as it establishes a business unit that will combine both credit card and charge card products.

Previously, those products had been managed by separate business units. Philip Riese was president of the Cardmember Financial Services Group, the unit that issues the company's credit cards and lines of credit. Frank Skillern was president of the Consumer Card Group, that issues the charge cards.

Philip Riese, 46, was named president of the new unit, Consumer Card Services Group. Mr. Skillern, 59, will report to Mr. Riese and direct American Express' efforts to consolidate its United States-based banking units, Centurion Bank in Delaware, and American Express Deposit Corp. in Utah. He was named chief executive officer of the combined banking unit that will be based in Utah.

Mr. Skillern's experience, in part as the general counsel to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 1979 to 1981, led to his new responsibilities, focusing on bank regulatory issues. Mr. Skillern joined American Express in 1983 as general counsel of the former IDS, now American Express Financial Advisors.

Mr. Riese has concentrated on expanding American Express' product reach during his 15-year tenure at the company.

"Bringing all of our consumer card activities into one business will sharpen the focus on our customers and accelerate the development of products and services targeted to specific segments of the market," said Kenneth I. Chenault, vice chairman of American Express Co., to whom Mr. Riese will report.

A spokesman for the company said that any layoffs as a result of the consolidations would be minimal.

"Some duplications will be eliminated by forming one group to administer, monitor, and develop" products, he said.

Several thousand people are employed in the two card units, which include the personal, gold, and platinum charge cards as well as the Optima and cobranded credit cards.

American Express has been thinking about combining these units for at least three years, according to the spokesman.

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