Resource BancShares Corp. said it plans to spin off its credit card transaction processing subsidiary by yearend.

The information marketing company, based in Columbia, S.C., said the move is designed to help the unit, Republic Services Co., focus on electronic commerce. The subsidiary would operate as a privately held, stand-alone company with a separate capital and management structure.

An industry observer said focusing on electronic commerce requires a vast amount of focus and technological expertise.

"It must be understood as a separate channel and addressed as a separate channel," said Thad D. Peterson, a consultant with Edgar, Dunn & Co., Atlanta. "It does not work as an adjunct to the base business."

Republic specializes in credit card account origination and servicing, portfolio management, risk analysis, and telemarketing for financial institutions.

Angelo R. Palombi, president and chief executive officer, Republic Services, said another idea behind the spinoff was to concentrate on credit card management services.

"We believe it provides us with greater managerial flexibility in the structuring of the way Republic Services does business in the future," he said. "We consider ourselves a well-capitalized servicer."

Mr. Palombi said Republic Services plans to work with clients in a support role as they venture into the Internet, smart cards, and stored value programs.

Republic currently uses Total System Services, Columbus, Ga., to service the 500,000 credit card accounts for its seven client banks.

Although Republic does not process merchant transactions, Mr. Palombi said he does not rule that out as a future possibility.

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