management to put more emphasis on home lending and collections.
The San Francisco company said it is organizing itself around four central endeavors: credit cards in the United States; credit cards in the United Kingdom; electronic commerce; and mortgages, collections, and other initiatives in an "emerging businesses" division.
Executives said last week that emerging businesses is a top priority.
That division houses First Select, a year-old program in which Providian buys bad debt from other lenders and tries to collect on it, as well as a line of fee-based products offered to borrowers.
Seth Barad, who was executive vice president in charge of Providian's unbanked or secured-card business, was named president of emerging businesses. He said his mandate is to turn mortgages and collections into star performers, emulating the growth strategy he implemented in the unbanked portfolio.
In 1994 Mr. Barad oversaw "a little secured credit card business," he said, and today it is "30 times as great as it was then."
"I'm being asked to take our smaller activities and do it again."
Mr. Barad will no longer be responsible for card activities, except when they overlap with such fee-based membership products as auto and health club programs. David R. Alvarez, previously executive vice president responsible for regular unsecured cards, was named president of credit cards.
That does not include the British card business, launched in June, which falls under James V. Elliot, executive vice president.
Combining credit card products under Mr. Alvarez reflects changes occurring in Providian's portfolio. Mr. Alvarez said a growing number of the six million customers who fall into the higher-risk category are building good credit histories and therefore can be offered unsecured platinum cards.
"The lines are blurring between the two businesses," said PaineWebber analyst Gary Gordon.
Mr. Gordon said the executive changes show that Providian wants a more diverse stream of revenues. "The fact is that credit cards over the long term are not a sustainable growth business," Mr. Gordon said. "As Providian gets bigger, it is going to be much more difficult to rely on just cards" as the profit engine.
"Cards is the largest business in terms of customers and receivables, but over time the emerging businesses will likely grow faster," Mr. Alvarez said.
One such growth opportunity is Providian's e-commerce business. James H. Rowe, who has run that business since it was formed in February, was promoted from senior vice president to executive vice president. He is also chief executive officer of GetSmart.com, part of the e-commerce unit.
Ellen Richey, general counsel of Providian since 1995, was given the additional title of vice chairman.