People's Bank will come to market after sitting out for more than a year with a $500 million credit card transaction - the largest yet for the company - led for the first time by Salomon Smith Barney.

Look for the Connecticutbased bank to securitize more often going ahead as well, as People's has seen growth in its portfolio during its respite from the market, and experienced an amortizing schedule more conducive to asset-backed issuance.

Though Goldman, Sachs & Co. has led seven of eight total credit card deals the bank has completed since entering the market in 1993, an insider said People's will rotate between Salomon, Goldman and J.P. Morgan going forward.

"They're starting to move it around, basically to enhance liquidity," the source said.

The bank first substituted an underwriter for Goldman when it went with J.P. Morgan for a $458 million five-year floater in 1997. People's then went back to Goldman in early 1998 - the last time the bank priced a deal - with a similar $370 million transaction.

At $500 million, the upcoming deal would be the bank's largest. It is scheduled to land in September and is expected to comprise three- to five-year floating paper. Frequency will pick up at People's, the source said, as the bank expects to complete three deals over the next 18 months.

"The current portfolio is about $4 billion, with $250 million of that in the U.K., aside from the master trust," the source said.

People's has been absent from the market for most of last year because nothing in its portfolio was amortizing. "Their existing five issues hadn't begun amortization yet, so the receivables weren't coming back on the balance sheet," the source said.

People's typically securitizes about 50% of its outstandings, but that percentage is spiking near 60% due to the heftiness of the upcoming $500 million deal. The remaining 40% to 50% comprises the bank's general retail deposits.

Separately, People's named Mark K. Vitelli - a specialist in credit card collections, automation and securitization - as executive vice president of the firm's credit card operations last week. Vitelli, formerly the senior vice president of People's national credit card concern, will now oversee the national and international credit card businesses.

- SK

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