Visa announced that Charlie Scharf is resigning as chief executive officer effective December 1, 2016, and the board of directors has unanimously voted to appoint Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. as CEO. Mr. Kelly, a current Visa board member, is the president and chief executive officer of Intersection Co. and the former president of American Express Co.
Mr. Scharf informed the board of directors that he decided to resign his position as CEO and board member because he could no longer spend the time in San Francisco necessary to do the job effectively. The board of directors did a rigorous review of a diverse set of internal and external candidates and is extremely gratified that Mr. Kelly has accepted the position. Mr. Kelly will join the company on October 31, 2016 as CEO designate. As part of the transition, Mr. Scharf will serve as an advisor to Mr. Kelly beginning December 1, 2016 for several months.
“Charlie has been a visionary CEO, highly successful by any set of metrics. He has helped transform Visa, the leading global payments technology company, into a technology-driven digital commerce company and has led a strategy that will benefit this company for years to come,” said Robert W. Matschullat, the company’s independent chairman. “The board of directors is extremely grateful for Charlie’s leadership and wishes to thank him for his outstanding four-year tenure, which saw total shareholder return increase by more than 130%, outperforming both the overall stock market and our peer group.”
“We are thrilled to have found someone with Al’s expertise and knowledge to take Visa to even greater heights. Al is a veteran payments industry executive who knows Visa well, having served as a board member for the past two-and-a-half years,” said Mr. Matschullat. “The board unanimously agrees that Al is the right leader for the company, and we expect a seamless transition given Al’s deep knowledge of the industry, demonstrated leadership capabilities, and his strong relationships with the talented management team currently in place.”
In his 23 years at American Express, Mr. Kelly held a variety of leadership positions. In addition to being president of American Express, he was head of the Global Consumer and Consumer Card Services groups. He currently serves on the board of directors of MetLife Inc.
Mr. Scharf commented: “I love working and running this great global company and I am sad to have reached the conclusion that I should step down, but running a San Francisco based company just doesn’t work for me personally right now and wouldn’t be fair to Visa. It has been an incredible privilege and honor to work with my many colleagues who have contributed so significantly to our success and transformation, and have strengthened our position as the leading global payments provider. I feel confident that the clarity of our strategic goals and our decisive actions will ensure that we continue to thrive in this quickly evolving industry.”
“Visa is lucky to have Al Kelly as the next CEO. I and our senior management team have had the opportunity to work closely with Al – and those relationships, along with his depth and breadth of payment knowledge – will enable him to step in quickly without missing a beat. I, of course, will do everything I can to help make the transition as easy as possible for everyone. Al is the right person to lead Visa to continued success.”
Under Mr. Scharf’s leadership, Visa has strengthened its position in global electronic payments and has been a leader in bringing innovation to the industry. Visa has transformed its technology platform by opening access to its network and capabilities through the Visa Developer Center, partnered with the world’s leading technology companies to drive new payment experiences, introduced new technologies to improve payment system security, and built a world class management team.
In addition, the company successfully completed the acquisition of Visa Europe in June 2016, and delivered strong financial results, with operating income climbing to $9.1 billion in FY 2015. Visa’s stock was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2013.
Mr. Kelly said: “I am extremely excited and honored to take on this role and build on Charlie’s work and that of all of the employees at Visa. Visa is incredibly well positioned for continued success, and I look forward to joining this preeminent global organization. I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of the Visa executives during my time on the board, and they are a talented group of business leaders who have been relentlessly focused on driving Visa’s global strategy. I look forward to working with them, including Ryan McInerney, Visa’s President, in serving our clients. Charlie has positioned Visa for great success, and I thank him for his leadership.”
The succession will be effective December 1, 2016, when Mr. Scharf will step down and Mr. Kelly will assume the CEO position.