GE Capital Services has hired Kathryn V. Marinello from First Data Corp. to head its credit card business.

General Electric Co.'s financial services unit said Monday that Ms. Marinello, 40, had taken over as president of GE Capital Consumer Financial Services in Mason, Ohio.

She replaces Michael D. Schauer, who left in September to become president, financial services, at First Virtual Holdings Inc., developer of an Internet payment system.

Ms. Marinello was approaching her two-year anniversary as senior vice president of First Data Resources and president of the company's debit and commercial card group. She had previously managed a $3.5 billion consumer and business credit card portfolio at First Bank System of Minneapolis.

"It's a good move for GE, because Kathy has a strong and proven commercial (card) track record, and I know that GE wants to be quite aggressive in that regard," said Stanley Anderson, president of Anderson & Associates in Arvada, Colo.

Besides issuing corporate cards, the GE unit, a top 25 issuer, also markets the GE Rewards MasterCard and the Exxon MasterCard.

K. Shelly Porges, chief executive officer of Porges/Hudson Marketing in San Francisco, said she does not see GE necessarily shifting its focus to corporate products. "Ms. Marinello has demonstrated that she is very successful and capable at running a card business," the consultant said.

Ms. Marinello will enhance GE Capital Consumer Financial Services' "strong competitive position and help fuel the expansion of our cobranded and corporate card business," said Edward D. Stewart, the GE Capital executive vice president to whom she reports.

Industry observers were divided on the implications of Ms. Marinello's departure from First Data Resources.

"Kathy was brought on board to solidify FDR's direction," said Mr. Anderson. "They have struggled over the past two years but were just beginning to come into play. I don't know if this foretells a prolonged delay in FDR's plans to implement their commercial card strategies."

Ms. Marinello was one of several high-profile hires First Data made in recent years as it became increasingly aggressive in various aspects of card processing. Michael Auriemma, president of Auriemma Consulting Group in Westbury, N.Y., said turnover is not surprising because "what someone is doing today at FDR is probably a lot different from what they were hired to do."

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