Following a year-long spree of portfolio acquisitions, Associates First Capital, better known for its mortgage-related product, will hit the public market this year with a debut credit card-backed securitization, said Scott McCarthy, senior vice president in capital markets at Associates.

"We would look to become a regular issuer," McCarthy said. "It's a market that has a lot of liquidity, and we haven't really finalized an issuance pattern yet. We're working on that. We still have plenty of time."

A recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission describes Class-A, Class-B and Class-C notes, in a senior/subordinate structure. The notes will price on the one-month Libor plus relative spread, according to the filing.

Though underwriters for the first deal have yet to be disclosed, McCarthy said the company would consider Salomon Smith Barney, the bank that has been working with Associates on its credit card program since last year.

Irving, Texas-based Associates currently holds close to $11 billion of credit card debt in its portfolio, which consists of bankcards, petroleum cards, and private-label retail cards. The pending public deal would be backed by bankcard assets only, McCarthy said.

Most recently, Associates agreed to purchase a $330 million bankcard portfolio from KeyCorp. Though Associates has never done a public credit card deal, the company has been selling its bankcards, gas and retail cards into conduits for some time now.

Down the line, Associates will consider bringing its private-label cards to the public market as well, although that would require a separate filing.

"We're certainly going to consider that," McCarthy said.

In August, Associates bought up the Citgo Petroleum Company gas-card portfolio, which, when added to previous acquisitions - including Shell Oil, BP Amoco, and Texaco - pushed Associates into the 40% range of market share in the petroleum credit-card businesses.

On the retail side, Associates manages accounts for such companies as Radio Shack, Goodyear, Gateway Computers, Helzberg Jewelers, Staples, Office Depot and Office Max.

Associates First Capital is the largest publicly traded finance company in the U.S.

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