MBNA Capital Ratios

Concerns over the weakening capitalization of MBNA, due to its upcoming acquisition of the PNC card portfolio, were put to rest as MBNA raised $1.2 billion yesterday. MBNA Corp. announced Monday that it sold 50 million shares of newly issued common stock to Goldman, Sachs & Co. Proceeds from the transaction, which will be counted in the corporation’s Tier 1 capital, will be used primarily to fund the corporation’s previously announced purchase of the credit card business of PNC Bank. The sale is slated to close this Thursday, and will increase MBNA’s common shares outstanding to 801.8 million shares. Fitch IBCA noted yesterday that on a pro-forma basis, MBNA capital ratios will be significantly enhanced.  Without any other significant acquisitions, Fitch says internal capital generation is expected to be more than sufficient to maintain capital ratios at their pro-forma levels. If this were to occur, Fitch says ratings could be favorably impacted in the future.

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ProMark One Promotions

IDRC (International Data Response Corporation), announced that it has made two strategic appointments to its business development team.  IDRC recently appointed Tim Ferguson and Mitch Pepper as Business Development Managers for ProMark One, an IDRC subsidiary within the IDRC USA Outbound division.

Ferguson comes to IDRC with 12 years of experience in sales and marketing within the financial services industry.  Most recently, he held the position of National Sales Director Western Region for First Data Solution’s Consumer Credit Associates (now called Innovis) where he was responsible for the sales and marketing of an entire line of risk management and direct marketing products and services for the financial services industry.  Prior to this, he spent 11 years with TransUnion Corporation, where he most recently served as Vice President of National Accounts.  At TransUnion, he was responsible for sales and marketing of financial services-related products and services for large national accounts.

In his new role as business development manager, Ferguson will be responsible for new account development and maintenance primarily within the financial services industry.  He will report to Lori Fentem, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Pepper’s experience level is equally impressive.  Pepper comes to IDRC with 17 years experience in sales management, customer service and quality management.

Most recently, Pepper spent 10 years as the Sales Manager for Mail-Well Envelope Company in Phoenix and Los Angeles.  There, he was responsible for the generation and maintenance of major national accounts and the management of the southwest sales force and customer service department.  In addition to his sales management duties, he served as a corporate trainer for Mail-Well, facilitating the Carew sales training courses and the Philip Crosby Total Quality Management (TQM) courses.  His education includes a BS degree in business administration from San Diego State University.

In his new role as Business Development Manager, Pepper will be responsible for new business development and maintenance, concentrating primarily on public utilities and membership services.  He will also report to Ms. Fentem.  One of the world’s leading telemarketing and customer service outsourcing firms, IDRC specializes in providing inbound and outbound telephone and Internet based solutions that target businesses and consumers in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, financial services, and insurance, among others.  Employing customized, state of the art computer and telephone based technologies in its operations; IDRC’s mission is to create value for our clients and opportunity for our people by providing customized call center solutions based on advanced telephony and Internet communications.  IDRC currently employs more than 6,500 professionals, operates 3,500 workstations, and has 23 locations throughout the United States and Canada.

IDRC is currently divided into two geographic operating units that include IDRC USA and IDRC International.  IDRC USA is further divided by specialization into IDRC USA Outbound and IDRC USA Inbound & Customer Care.  ProMark One operates within the IDRC USA Outbound division and is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.  This division specializes in providing large-scale outbound customer acquisition and telesales applications to a variety of industries.

Ferguson and Pepper are excellent additions to the IDRC USA team.  We are pleased to have them on board to help us build a bigger and stronger company that will lead the industry into the new millenium.

The headquarters for IDRC USA are located at 7272 E. Indian School Rd., Suite 350, Scottsdale, Ariz. 85251.  For more information, please contact Dawn Wahler at 800-933-0233 or 602-941-6229.

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VW Card Coming

German car maker, Volkswagen, announced this week plans to launch credit cards, savings accounts, and other banking products this year in Britain. Four years ago the company set up a British financial services arm to offer business development loans to Volkswagen dealers and lease/purchase deals to car buyers. But Volkswagen is now set to go after other bank’s customers. A VW savings account is expected to be announced shortly followed by credit cards in late 1999 or early 2000. VW abandoned discussions with Barclaycard about launching a joint credit card four years ago.

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Cap One – Best Employer

Capital One Financial Corporation ranked 41 in Fortune’s second annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.”  The Company was also the only Virginia-based company listed.  Currently, Capital One employs more than 10,000 associates worldwide, from customer service to information technology to marketing and analysis.

“As one of the nation’s fastest growing companies, our number one business is to recruit and retain the best and brightest associates,” said Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  “As an information-based business, our success depends on the innovation and flexibility of our associates. We built an environment where our associates are empowered to fulfill their potential.”

Nigel Morris, President and Chief Operating Officer added, “At Capital One, we have built a truly entrepreneurial culture.  Through our innovative compensation and benefits programs, we’ve built a company of owners who are committed to creating value for the Company and our stockholders.”

Fortune collaborated with best-selling authors Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz to compile the list, using methodology similar to that used for their books, The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.  To be eligible, a company had to be at least ten years old and have a minimum of 500 employees. Levering and Moskowitz, who have been tracking the best companies since 1981, searched their database of more than 1,000 companies and selected 295 companies as the most viable candidates for this list.

To be eligible, Capital One associates completed the Great Place to Work Index designed to evaluate trust in management, pride in work and camaraderie, along with the Hewitt People Practices Inventory, a 31-page questionnaire developed by Hewitt Associates, a management consultant firm.

“We listen to our associates,” said Dennis Liberson, Senior Vice President for Human Resources.  “Twice a year we survey our associates to determine how we can best meet their needs. We already knew that our associates think Capital One is a great place to work — being named to the Fortune 100 list confirms we’re providing unique employment opportunities for the people who come to work at Capital One.”

Capital One prides itself for continuously innovating human resources practices to benefit associates.  Among the programs that differentiate the Company from other employers are the associate selection process; a number of ongoing training and development courses; outstanding benefits, including three weeks vacation; and entrepreneurial compensation.  Capital One is one of only 28 companies that made the list that offers stock options to all associates.  Additionally, Capital One has created an innovative orientation program that assimilates new associates into the culture of the Company.

Capital One has operations in Richmond, Fredericksburg and Falls Church, Virginia; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Tampa, Florida and London and Nottingham, United Kingdom.  Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation () is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products.  Capital One’s subsidiaries collectively had 14.9 million customers and $16.3 billion in managed loans outstanding as of September 30, 1998, and are among the largest providers of MasterCard and VISA credit cards in the world.  Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 500 Index.

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VISA Web ERM

CA-based Epiphany, a Web-based ‘Enterprise Relationship Management’ solutions company, announced Monday a strategic relationship with VISA International. VISA and Epiphany will customize Epiphany’s ERM solutions expressively for the bankcard industry, optimizing financial institutions’ ability to enhance their bankcard customer relationships.  In addition, VISA has been given a seat on Epiphany’s board of directors as part of the relationship agreement reached.

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Diebold Canada

Diebold announced yesterday that it’s Canadian subsidiary, the Diebold Company of Canada Ltd., will begin to directly market ATMs and self- service solutions to Canadian financial institutions.  Recently, IBM Canada had performed the role of self-service products distributor for Diebold. Last year, Diebold shipped more than 34,000 ATMs worldwide, including more than 2,200 in Canada.

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SAM’S Club Deal

Old Kent Merchant Services, a joint venture between First Data Merchant Services and Old Kent Bank, announced Monday a three-year agreement to begin marketing electronic payment solutions to SAM’S Club business members nationwide. The payment service, to be marketed as ‘SAM’S Club Payment Solutions’, will offer credit, debit, check and I-commerce payment solutions to millions of business members at all 451 SAM’S Club locations in the U.S. SAM’S and FDMS tested the program last year. SAM’S members will apply for the services via phone, email or the Internet.

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I-Shopping Explosion

America Online reported Monday its members spent $1.2 billion with online AOL retailers during the nearly six weeks of the 1998 holiday shopping season. The company says 1.25 million AOL members shopped online for the first time ever this holiday season. AOL says Thursday, Dec. 17 was the heaviest shopping day of the season as well as AOL’s best retail day ever, generating over $36 million in sales of consumer goods and travel-related services. By comparison the 1997 holiday shopping season marked the first time that purchases by AOL members resulted in the first-ever $1 million shopping day, with a series of $1 million days following in the weeks before Christmas. Meanwhile Media Metrix reported that toy and apparel sites experienced the most growth in unique visitors on a percentage basis during the four-week holiday shopping period (11/27-12/24) compared with the prior four week period (10/26-11/22), with 86% and 73% increases, respectively. The number of unique visitors to shopping sites increased 25% during the four-week period leading up to Christmas.

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Platinum MC Beefs-Up

MasterCard announced last week it is expanding its ‘Platinum MasterCard Collection’, a portfolio of  value added offers from prestigious brand partners in the areas of travel, retail, dining, sports and entertainment. The program includes options such as complimentary hotel room upgrades, access to fine dining experiences and special promotions tied to MasterCard’s sports sponsorships. Benefits include access to a preferred reservation system at Relais Gourmands restaurants and room upgrades and other values from global and regional lodging partners including Hyatt, Inter-Continental, Relais & Chateaux and Shangri-La Hotels. Additional partners participating in the collection program include Vail Resorts; Inter-Golf; and Sunsail, the world’s largest yacht charter company. The ‘Platinum MasterCard Collection’ program was first offered to MasterCard members earlier this year. The program currently has about 30 issuers in 15 geographic markets.

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People’s Switch

CT-based People’s Bank announced during the holiday it is switching U.S. card processors, from TSYS to First Data. More than 2 million domestic credit, debit, and commercial card accounts will be involved in the switch. The seven-year agreement expands the bank’s existing relationship with First Data for its U.K. credit card portfolio. First Data and People’s Bank have worked together on an international basis since 1996, when FDRLimited started processing for the bank’s U.K. credit card portfolio. According to to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) at the end of the third quarter People’s held total receivables of $3,440,545,679 with 2,726,509 gross accounts.

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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MARS Card

NJ-based IDT has signed an exclusive multi-year supply and distribution agreement with M&M’s Chocolate Candies to provide specially-branded prepaid phone cards. Through the marketing relationship, M&M’s cards will be available to all of the retailers that currently carry M&M’s Chocolate Candies. The phone cards will feature the likenesses as well as voices of the M&M’s brand characters. IDT will be providing its own distribution channels for the cards through its partnership with Union Telecard Alliance, which distributes phone cards to newsstands and grocery stores throughout the U.S.. The prepaid phone card market is projected to become a $3.6 billion industry by 2001.

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Driver’s Edge Expands

Citibank is expanding its ‘Driver’s Edge Rebate Program’ to allow cardholders to redeem rebates toward the purchase or lease of any used car. Citibank says this is the first credit card rewards program wherein cardholders can redeem rebates when purchasing or leasing a used car, van, light truck, or sport utility vehicle, whether the vehicle is acquired through a dealership, over the Internet, or through a private sale. Citibank says cardholders, as of Jan. 1, can effectively redeem their current and future rebates toward the purchase or lease of absolutely any car on the U.S. market. Consumer details of the program are available via CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]). Citibank says it is responding to the growing number of consumers that are purchasing and leasing used vehicles, which in 1997 represented 73% of all vehicles sold.

[1]: http://www.cardtrak.com

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