DALLAS – TNB Card Services has purchased two credit unions’ credit card portfolios since December of 2002, according to the firm. The wholly credit union-owned card services firm bought one portfolio worth about $2 million from the $31 million Spur Credit Union based in El Paso, Texas in December. TNB finalized the purchase of the $7 million portfolio belonging to the $108 million St. Louis Community Credit Union this week. The Dallas-based firm had long opposed credit unions selling their card portfolios and surprised many in the industry by announcing in June of last year that it would begin to purchase the assets. Glen Lee, senior vice president of the firm, said that his firm still opposed the notion that all credit unions should sell their portfolios but allowed that there might be some who found such sales met their strategic needs. “We are here to provide a wholly credit union-owned solution,” Lee said. “We are comfortable with the CU ownership of TNB, which made them unique in the industry. It’s truly a win-win situation,” said Bill Humpfer, SLCCU president and CEO. The Illinois Credit Union League Service Corporation purchases portfolios, using money credit unions invest for that purpose. TNB will take on the full management of the card accounts, which will still carry the SLCCU name and logo. Lee confirmed that TNB will follow the industry practice of managing the purchased card portfolio closely to take advantage of marketing and usage opportunities it represented. “Our analysis of the portfolio indicates that 80% of the accounts have some factor which can be improved from the cardholder’s perspective,” Lee said. Some need better interest rates, others need higher lines of credit and others need a card upgrade, he said. TNB made the purchase through Morgan and Keegan, one of the less generally well-known firms involved in card portfolio brokering for credit unions. Memphis-based Morgan Keegan is an investment banking firm and an independent subsidiary of the Regions Financial Corporation. The firm has been involved in brokering credit card portfolios since 1995 and brokered 18 credit union card portfolio sales in 2002, according to Rick Spell, one of the firm’s marketing managers. Spell said the firm got involved in the brokering of credit union card portfolios after the firm’s previous mortgage brokerage clients expressed a need to sell their card portfolios. The firm then developed a program which, it said, will help a credit union evaluate its portfolio and will help with the sale if a credit union wants to do that. The market has gotten very hot in the last two years, Spell said, and indicated that the firm is debating whether to market its card portfolio brokerage services by more than word of mouth, which is more or less how it has been marketed so far.
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