GE Capital Services acquired a small equity stake in Renaissance Holdings Inc., a specialist in secured cards.
The unit of General Electric's financial services arm that made the investment, the equity capital group, targets fast-growing companies.
Irving J. Levin, chief executive officer of Portland, Ore.-based Renaissance, said GE's investment "enables us to grow at a much faster rate."
Renaissance, which manages secured card portfolios for banks that do not want to get into the business directly, will control about 300,000 such accounts by the end of the year, or double the 1996 total, Mr. Levin said.
He said he expects GE's investment will enable the number of accounts to double again in 1998.
A spokesman for GE Capital declined to comment on the investment. GE's involvement, Mr. Levin said, will give his company access to many more card accounts.
Renaissance manages secured card offerings, which are backed by deposits, to individuals who do not qualify for standard, unsecured credit lines.
"Segments of (GE's) portfolio that don't fit because of the company's credit criteria are huge to us," said Mr. Levin.
Among Renaissance's other clients are Advanta Corp., First Union Corp., and Bally's Total Fitness, which offers a MasterCard to its club members.
"We have tried to move from an interesting little operation to being one of the more serious players in the subprime credit card business," Mr. Levin said.
Renaissance's biggest competitors in the secured card market are Providian Financial Corp. and Capital One Financial Corp.