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Personal touch aids MBNA's relocation Company's president and Ruppersberger have a long friendship; Business ties, too; The move


According to both MBNA executives and local government leaders, the long-standing relationship between C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Delaware-based MBNA Corp. has been a key element in the recruitment of MBNA's regional headquarters to the Baltimore area.

The personal friendship and business relationship go back to the 1970s, when Ruppersberger, then an attorney in private practice, was handling legal work for the company.

The recruitment of MBNA and its estimated 2,000 jobs is a major political success for Ruppersberger, who was elected Baltimore County executive in 1994. Since then, he and former state Sen. Francis X. Kelly have been urging MBNA to return to the Baltimore area, from which it moved its headquarters in 1982.

Ruppersberger has long been friends with Charles M. Cawley, president of MBNA.

"This is a friendship thing," said Kelly, who is a consultant to MBNA on insurance issues. "MBNA is like family, and Dutch has been included in that."

After being elected county executive, Ruppersberger closed his law firm but kept the business with MBNA by incorporating Rupp and Associates Inc., a debt collection agency that serves MBNA and other companies, according to Ruppersberger.

Ruppersberger and local credit industry executives say that the relocation is not likely to affect the volume of business Rupp and Associates does with MBNA. "With the advent of faxes and e-mail," says Robert Passerelli, vice president of operations for the Hunt Valley-based National Association of Credit Managers, "physical locale does not really make much of a difference anymore."

Ruppersberger said that regulatory decisions on MBNA's relocation -- such as building approvals, zoning permits and traffic controls -- would be dealt with at the department-head level and that MBNA would be handled like any other company seeking to move into the county.

The debt collection firm is one of three companies that Ruppersberger owns in whole or in part, according to public disclosure statements. The three are:

Rupp and Associates. Ruppersberger owns all 1,000 shares of stock, and he declines to say how much income he receives from it. Rupp is managed by his brother.

International Marketing Network Inc. The firm is wholly owned by Ruppersberger. Its value is listed as "minimal at this time."

Antaeus Group Inc. Ruppersberger purchased 1,500 shares in December 1995 for $60,000. State records show that the company was founded in 1989, under another name, as a "marketing company for infectious waste equipment."

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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