When Green Tree Financial Corp. was looking for an executive to lead its diversification into revolving credit and home equity lending, it found one through news reports.

Bruce Crittenden had left Prospect Heights, Ill.-based Household International in June, after 23 years, saying he wanted to take some time off from work.

"When we read that Bruce had left Household, we were quite interested," said John W. Brink, executive vice president and chief financial officer of St. Paul-based Green Tree, which specializes in manufactured-home lending and has an $11.3 billion portfolio.

"We're anxious to get involved in home equity and revolving credit," Mr. Brink said.

Mr. Crittenden, 43, had managed 462 Household Finance branch offices and a $9.5 billion loan portfolio.

He called the opportunity to build new business lines at Green Tree, where he will be senior vice president, too good to pass up. But the road ahead could be treacherous.

"When you go into these lines, you have a whole lot of competition from banks and everyone else out there," said analyst Ben B. Crabtree of Dain Bosworth Inc.

Mr. Crittenden, however, is confident: "It's a huge marketplace, and there are a lot of players out there. We'll get our foot in."

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