Bloomberg News

BUENOS AIRES - Providian Financial Corp., the biggest issuer of credit cards to consumers with tarnished credit, will offer cards in Argentina for the first time.

Providian, which made its debut in Argentina Tuesday, plans to offer MasterCard initially. The San Francisco company is the sixth-largest U.S. credit card issuer and also offers cards the United Kingdom.

The entry into South America's second-biggest economy comes as Argentina struggles to pull out of a two-year recession, which has choked consumer spending. Though credit card purchases are expected to drop 11% this year, some analysts said Providian may be able to profit in the country's difficult market, as it has done elsewhere.

Meredith Whitney, an analyst at First Union Securities, who has a "strong buy" on Providian's stock, said the company has "a terrific track record entering into markets where others have snubbed their noses."

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