Providian Financial Corp., the San Francisco-based credit card provider, said it could soon reach a settlement with regulators and law enforcement officials over customer complaints related to its sales and marketing efforts.

The company said that any settlement would likely mean its earnings for the year would fall short of Wall Street estimates due to one-time costs and payments related to settlements.

In a press release issued Tuesday morning, Providian said talks with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office over a variety of customer complaints could produce an agreement by June 30. Providian said that if the talks result in a settlement, it expects that it and its bank subsidiaries would have to make restitution payments to customers, pay a fine, and modify certain business practices.

The company said if it reached an agreement with the OCC and the San Francisco District Attorney by June 30, the terms would have a one-time impact on second quarter earnings. Providian said it expected its earnings for 2000 would be between $4.24 to $4.34 per diluted share including unusual items, or $5.10 to $5.20, excluding these one-time events. The company plans to use a one-time net gain on a home equity loan sale of $1.5 billion on June 16 to offset the settlement.

Providian said quarterly earnings will be between $1.25 to $1.30 per share, excluding the one-time charges; Thomson Financial/First Call estimates are $1.25 per share for the quarter and $5.20 per share for the year.

Providian on Monday entered into a consent decree with the Connecticut attorney general's office that resolved similar issues. The company will pay $1.6 million to the state and agreed to reimburse consumers who can prove that they were hurt by the company's sales practices.

Providian shares were at $95.4375, up $1.71875 -- or 1.8% -- in midday trading.

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