seeking its fortunes in the U.S. consumer credit market. The company, formed in 1987, develops data base software for recovering bad debt. The software is used by 30 of the top 50 retail banks and 27 of the largest 50 credit card banks in the world. Competitors include First Data Corp. and American Management Systems Inc., said Randall T. Harman, senior vice president of London Bridge's distressed-debt group. Half of London Bridge's 225 employees are now in the United States, mostly because the company bought two software units from Checkfree Corp. Mr. Harman, a former Checkfree employee who has been associated with the distressed-debt product for nine years, said he relishes working for a software firm again. Checkfree, which acquired the software developer Servantis Systems Inc. in 1996, is more rooted in transaction processing, he said. "Everyone likes to be empowered and feel as though they were an integral part of the company," Mr. Harman said. "There were seven layers between me and (Checkfree chairman) Pete Kight. I now report directly to the chairman" of London Bridge, Gordon Crawford. London Bridge earned $4.6 million in 1997 on $18.9 million of revenue. The net was up 65% from the year earlier. The stock was trading at midday Wednesday at $21.50, up 58% from its Oct. 14 low. The price has increased in recent weeks because of three software sales, including a $3.5 million one to Chase Manhattan Corp. - Steven Marjanovic

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