Smarting from setbacks in its mammoth credit card operations, Bank One's First USA unit has announced it will refocus its marketing efforts, with home-equity loans targeted as an area for a concerted nationwide drive.

A spokesman for First USA said that the company's study of the HEL market found the industry to be very fragmented. As a result, the bank decided that it would undertake a nationwide campaign to increase its market share and bring efficiencies to the industry.

Although the spokesman acknowledged that securitization of home-equity loan portfolios is common practice and part of the capital planning in this industry, he said the first order of business for First USA is to increase its portfolio. Whether its keeps the loans on its books or securitizes them "is not the first order of business."

The spokesman did note that 80% to 90% of First USA's credit card portfolio has been securitized, and added that as the HEL portfolio grows the company will take a closer look at the issue of securitization.

At present the bank estimates the total U.S. home equity loan market at about $450 billion, of which First USA has about a 3% stake, or $13 billion.

"We want to grow this," the spokesman said, adding that First USA's HEL business will be operating in all 50 states. He said the bank will be promoting HEL applications via its Web site with the slogan "50 States in 50 Seconds."

Separately, the company said that as a result of the problems in the credit card operations, First USA will not realize the growth it had anticipated. The bank had expected credit card receivables to grow to about $73 billion by year end, but is now projecting that figure to be an unchanged $68 billion range. As a result, $3 billion to $4 billion in securitizations the company had planned will not take place because "we do not have the paper."

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