Magazine : Archives : 2nd Quarter 2006

Capital One Charts a New Course

In 1994, Signet Banking Corp. - Richmond, Virginia-based regional bank - took the unusual step off spinning of its credit card division through an initial public offering. With just one product and no retail deposit base to fund its loans, the decision might have seemed foolhardy—or at best, quixotic. How could a tiny start-up hope to survive against the giant money-center banks that dominated the credit card business? Surely it would be stomped on. In one of the great corporate success stories of the 1990s, that little company, Capital One Financial Corp., grew up to be one of the card...