National City Corp. has named William F. Smith president of its card services division.

Effective Monday, Mr. Smith, 49, will succeed James H. Gilmour, who will join The Columbus Dispatch as its chief financial officer. Mr. Gilmour has been with Columbus, Ohio-based National City Card Services for 23 years.

Mr. Smith comes from First Data Corp., where he was most recently senior vice president for decision support at First Data Solutions, Omaha. Before joining First Data in 1995, he was president of First America Bank Corp.'s retail card division. He was a 26-year veteran of that bank.

Mr. Smith was not available for comment.

National City's $1.3 billion bank card portfolio, with 2.6 million cardholders, ranks 38th nationally.

The $50 billion-asset company said it plans to develop a strong regional presence through its 864 retail bank branches in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

"We wanted to focus on bank cards and focus on retail customers within our geography, rather than being a national player," said Gary A. Glaser, president and chief executive officer of National City. "We will work closely with our affiliate banks" and the "built-in base of customers."

Mr. Glaser said Mr. Smith "has a good background in the card business on the technical side, the marketing side, and the credit side." He is also good at using data bases for marketing, Mr. Glaser said.

Mr. Glaser said National City sold its $400 million private-label business to Alliance Data Systems Corp., Dallas, in February, which is consistent with its strategy of strengthening its regional focus.

Joseph K. Morford, vice president of Alex. Brown & Sons, San Francisco, said that while National City's credit card portfolio is only 4% of its total assets, it is "an area they are trying to grow on a selective basis and improve the profitability of on an ongoing basis."

In an interview several months ago with American Banker, National City chairman and CEO David Daberko said "credit cards are a prime example of a business" where the bank is "not up to scale" on the issuing side. "I am not a big fan of the national card business," he said.

National City has "a self-inflicted wound" from "a segment of the population using the card offers they receive in the mail to keep their existing accounts current," he added. "Our chargeoffs are going to go up."

In the first quarter, National City's chargeoff rate for total managed receivables was 4.64%, compared to 3.95% in the first quarter of 1996, said Mr. Morford.

Regional banks averaged a chargeoff rate of 5.69% in the quarter, he said. u

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