Sales of portfolios, a primary driver of bank card consolidation, have accelerated significantly in recent years.

More than $7 billion of receivables changed hands in 1996, close to $10 billion in 1997, and more than $3.5 billion in the first six months of 1998. Some recent major transactions include Chase Manhattan Corp.'s purchase of the $4.4 billion remaining in Bank of New York's portfolio, Providian Financial Corp.'s of two packages of $1.1 billion each from First Union Corp., and Prudential's sale of $1 billion of nonrelationship accounts to GE Capital.

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