Gemplus, the French smart card manufacturer, shook up its North American staff, replacing president Dan Cunningham with Brigitte Baumann, formerly of American Express in France.

Mr. Cunningham said he "enjoyed his four years with the company," but he was reluctant to further discuss the terms of his resignation and March 15 departure. In a telephone interview, Mr. Cunningham said he will remain in the smart card industry as a consultant.

Ms. Baumann, who joined Gemplus last May, is responsible for North American operations, including Minneapolis-based DataCard Corp., the largest plastic card producer in the world, bought by the French card maker in May.

Though revenues increased in 1995, a source close to Gemplus said the home office was not satisfied with the U.S. division's performance.

What's more, the addition of DataCard changed the scope of the U.S. head job, making it more of a management than sales position, sources said.

Ms. Baumann, who is on maternity leave, was unavailable for comment. Justin D'Angelo, formerly DataCard's plant manager in Montgomeryville, Pa., who was elevated to vice president of North American operations, noted some further executive changes:

*Regine Wojciechowski joined the U.S. subsidiary from Gemplus in France as director of the multimedia transport and contactless emerging market business division.

*Richard Wojciechowski, director of banking and retail business division for Latin America, is another French transplant. His duties include managing the relationship between Gemplus and Visa International.

*Mac McKinnon, a DataCard employee, became sales manager, assuming part of the role Dan Cunningham played at the company, said Mr. D'Angelo.

*William Beattie, a French Canadian from NBS Technologies, another card manufacturer, will replace Canada's general manager Jean Sereaud, who returns to France.

Joseph Schuler, senior vice president for new business development and marketing at National City Stored Value Systems, questioned the wisdom of transplanting French executives.

"Bringing in new people with a different culture seems a very curious move to me," he said. "What works in France won't necessarily work here."

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