(Adds details about credit card business, Anderson)
By Dan Freed
Aug 24 (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co on Thursday named Beverly Anderson to head its cards and retail services unit, the latest management change at a bank struggling to repair its reputation nearly a year after a sales scandal.
Anderson has been interim leader of the unit since March, replacing Shelley Freeman, who was fired in February following an internal investigation by the board of the third largest U.S. lender.
Nearly a year ago, officials discovered that Wells Fargo staff had opened as many as 2.1 million accounts without customer authorization to boost sales figures. It has grown to include other areas, such as auto insurance.
Prior to taking her current role, Anderson led the bank's consumer credit card business. Her new responsibilities include Wells Fargo-branded cards as well as "private label" ones, partnerships with retailers and other companies. She also oversees collections.
Before joining Wells Fargo in 2012, Anderson developed consumer and small business product portfolios for companies including American Express Co.
Wells Fargo's credit card business is smaller than those of rivals JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc. The bank said at its investor day in May that applications had declined following the wrongdoing.
Prior to the scandal, Wells Fargo executives had targeted credit cards as a business with big growth opportunities. Less than two years ago, Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry said the bank might double the loans on its books in the years to come. At the end of the second quarter, Wells Fargo had $33.8 billion in credit card loans on its books, compared to $30.4 billion two years earlier.
Many banks have targeted credit cards as a big area for growth, and they regularly try to outdo each other with incentives that reduce profits. Despite its own difficulties and the tough competitive environment, Wells Fargo continues its credit card push, recently announcing partnerships with Visa Inc and American Express.
Reporting by Dan Freed in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jeffrey Benkoe