Closing in on the credit card industry's top tier, Providian Financial Corp. has agreed to acquire $1.1 billion of receivables from First Union Corp.

The loans would increase Providian's third-quarter 1997 credit card total by 14%, to about $9 billion. Currently 12th on the bank card industry ranking, the San Francisco company would need more than $1 billion more to crack the Top 10.

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