National City Corp., which has been in the derivatives business with corporate clients for two years, is now gearing up to hedge risks for wealthy clients.

To mark the change, the banking company's structured products group changed its name this month to the structured products and equity derivatives group. It is led by Anthony Crisalli, a senior vice president at Natcity Investments.

Until now, Cleveland-based National City has offered only structured products to limit interest rate risk for institutional clients. It declined to disclose revenues for that business.

The expanded group will also offer equity derivatives, and to private clients as well as corporations. And there are plans to hire an asset securitization team.

Though most revenues still will probably come from corporate clients, wealthy individuals will probably outnumber them, Mr. Crisalli said.

"We're now focused on expanding in general, and the first opportunity we've identified is this need in our private client group to assist our customers in managing equity risk," Mr. Crisalli said.

Many of the bank's private clients have their net worth concentrated in one asset, such as a closely held business or stock of one company. Derivatives can be used to lock in on a range of prices for a future sale of assets. Once securitized, previously illiquid assets are more acceptable to lenders as collateral.

The group, which has eight people marketing interest rate products to the clients of 335 lenders in the bank, will add three equity derivative specialists. At least six more will be hired to work on a team to structure other products, such as securitized residential mortgages, student loans, subprime paper, auto loans, and receivables, Mr. Crisalli said.

Like other banks, National City is working with Wall Street investment banks - it would not say which - to advance its derivatives business. Similar arrangements include the strategic alliance between San Francisco- based BankAmerica Corp. with New York-based D.E. Shaw & Co.

Other U.S. banking companies that offer derivatives include BankBoston Corp., Bankers Trust New York Corp., J.P. Morgan & Co., and NationsBank Corp.

"We are responding to a competitive need. If we're not going to be offering it, then I'm sure our competitors will," Mr. Crisalli said.

He added that the expansion was not undertaken just to have an extensive menu to impress clients. "We run our businesses as profit centers," he said.

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