The two megadeals announced Monday would reshuffle the top of the credit card charts, with the new Banc One Corp. vaulting into the No. 2 spot and the new BankAmerica Corp. essentially doubling in size.
Projecting a pro forma $60 billion of receivables, Banc One's combination with First Chicago NBD Corp. would be in "striking distance" of No. 1 Citicorp, said John B. McCoy, Banc One's chairman and chief executive officer.
Citigroup, which would result from the proposed merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group, would exceed Banc One by just $5 billion in outstandings, based on yearend 1997 data.
Citicorp had recently opened a $20 billion gap over the current No. 2, MBNA Corp., by acquiring AT&T Universal Card Services and its $14 billion of managed card receivables.
Mr. McCoy, who would be president and CEO of the new Banc One, said: "Everyone says we are going to be the No. 2 (card) issuer in the United States. I keep saying we are the No. 2 issuer in the world."
NationsBank, the ninth-largest bank card issuer with $11 billion of receivables, and BankAmerica, the 10th-largest with $10 billion, would climb to No. 5 among bank card issuers and No. 6 if the Discover card is included.
Unlike at Banc One, which has a strong credit card management organization in place following its June 1997 acquisition of the monoline credit card company First USA Inc., BankAmerica and NationsBank do not have a clear succession.
Eileen M. Friars has been the top card executive at NationsBank since 1991, while Stephen B. Galasso, a former Citibank executive, has been running BankAmerica's show since 1995.
Ms. Friars would have an edge if the merged company's choice of chief retail executive-Kenneth Lewis of NationsBank over Eugene Lockhart of BankAmerica-is an indication.
"There is more of a competition there in terms of who will get responsibility," said Michael Auriemma, president of Auriemma Consulting Group, Westbury, N.Y.
At Banc One, Richard Vague, the former First USA CEO, would retain the top card post. First Chicago NBD had, in fact, been searching for a permanent credit card executive since Scott P. Marks left that role in 1996. A First Chicago NBD vice chairman, Mr. Marks has since announced his intention to retire.
"Dick Vague has to be the luckiest man alive," said Moshe Orenbuch, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
Mr. Vague's unit, though, would provide less of the overall earnings pie-31%-than the 38% it contributes to Banc One, said Mr. McCoy.
"That is what all of us are trying to do with these big mergers- diversify earnings," Mr. McCoy said at a news conference.
First Chicago NBD chairman Verne Istock, who is to become chairman of the new entity, said it is uncertain if First Chicago's First Card portfolio would retain a separate identity. It is made up of the United Airlines Mileage Plus card and many gold cards.
"There will be differences, just like there are in everyday marriages," said Mr. Istock. "But we have to resolve those quickly."
Totting up card industry acquisitions, investment banker Robert Hammer said card issuers announced or closed on deals in the first quarter that represented $19 billion of receivables.
That was $2 billion less than the total exchanged in 1997, said the head of R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, Thousand Oaks, Calif. He said another $10 billion are in play now, and 1998's volume is likely to be double that of last year.