Providian Financial Corp., buffeted by a series of class actions, has hired a senior executive, Konrad S. Alt, to help improve its public face.

Mr. Alt was most recently a budgeting and government relations executive at World Savings Bank, a subsidiary of Golden West Financial Corp. of Oakland, Calif. He joins Providian as senior vice president and chief public policy officer, a newly created position.

In the mid-'90s Mr. Alt was chief of staff and senior deputy comptroller in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; from 1989 to 1993 he was counsel to the Senate Banking Committee.

Providian, a top 10 bank card issuer, said Mr. Alt will "coordinate Providian's federal, state, and local legislative and regulatory analysis and strategy" and oversee "service excellence, community affairs, and public relations programs."

Providian has been under investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney and under fire from consumer groups for the fees it charges on credit cards. Lawsuits by shareholders and cardholders have accused the lender of deceptive practices, and Providian has responded by changing some policies.

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