Joseph W. Saunders, group executive of Household International Inc.'s U.S. BankCard operation, resigned Monday to join Fleet Financial Group as chairman and chief executive officer of its card business. Fleet, of Boston, agreed in October to acquire the $10.5 billion credit card portfolio of Advanta Corp.

Mr. Saunders, 51, has been widely credited with the success of Household's cobranding program, which includes the 10-million-card General Motors portfolio.

Since joining Household in 1985, Mr. Saunders and his management team "have built our credit card business from under $200 million in receivables to the sixth largest Visa/MasterCard issuer in the U.S.," said William F. Aldinger, Household's chairman.

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