WILMINGTON, Del. – If the market for CU card portfolios continues to slow next year, one reason may be the pending merger between card giant MBNA and Bank of America. Announced at the end of June and scheduled to be completed by the end of 2005, the merger between the two banking giants may have chilled the card portfolio market for credit unions by making them add the risk of selling to such a known card brand to their considerations. MBNA had previously kept its brand low key and since it only issued cards could more easily pledge not to cross sell other products to CU members. While some sort of buy-out involving MBNA had been anticipated for some time, analysts around the card industry expressed surprise that Bank of America had made the offer so soon after consolidating its purchase of Fleet Boston. Analysts pointed out that MBNA appeared ripe for a deal because of the overall stagnation of the U.S. credit card market and a slowing even among affinity marketing, which is MBNA’s traditional strength. The bank’s stock price had fallen as well after MBNA tried to stop offering the 0% APR’s which had become the industry standard for new account offers and other issuers had not fallen suit. “We had hoped that the other issuers would follow our lead, but that was not to be,” MBNA CEO Bruce Hammond told stock analysts in a conference call convened to discuss the deal. The impact of the sale announcement on credit unions was hard to gauge right away. MBNA downplayed the impact, pointing in July to two credit unions which had decided to go forward with their sales to MBNA and for whom the Bank of America merger made no difference. But on the other hand, MBNA has gone public with only one CU card portfolio purchase since the sale was announced. [email protected]

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