Magazine article American Banker

Dreams Dashed, a Conn. Bank Sells off Card Loans

Magazine article American Banker

Dreams Dashed, a Conn. Bank Sells off Card Loans

Article excerpt

Webster Bank of Waterbury, Conn., which a year ago was expressing high hopes about its credit card business, has beaten a retreat.

The principal subsidiary of $9.8 billion-asset Webster Financial Corp. sold its $31 million Visa portfolio to First USA Bank in April. Only seven months earlier, Webster hired card industry veteran Ronald T. Urquhart to breathe life into the business.

Mr. Urquhart had previously presided over the rapid card-portfolio growth and international expansion of People's Bank of Bridgeport, Conn. During Mr. Urquhart's 12-year tenure, People's rose into the credit card industry's Top 25.

In a January 1998 interview, Mr. Urquhart said, "I'd be thrilled if I made a People's out of Webster."

This week, Webster spokesman Michael Bazinet said: "In today's market, portfolios are in the multibillion-dollar range. Our business was simply too small to compete effectively."

Webster exhibited credit card aspirations before employing Mr. Urquhart. It had hired Card Issuer Program Management Corp.-which is the consulting firm of Jerry D. Craft, a former Wachovia Corp. and First Data Corp. executive-to manage its business. The Atlanta-based firm, now called InfiStar Corp. worked with Webster for nearly 18 months, until shortly after Mr. Urquhart was recruited.

Mr. Urquhart, 54, joined Webster after accepting an early retirement package from People's, where he most recently ran the bank's office in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Urquhart has been focusing on consumer product responsibilities including the agent bank relationship with First USA, a Banc One Corp. …

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