Visa’s Charles Scharf passes on the reins to Alfred Kelly

Kelly is likely to focus on tighter integration of the company’s operations in the U.S., Europe and China.

Visa Inc. has disclosed that its CEO, Charles Scharf, will be stepping down and will be succeeded by Alfred Kelly. Scharf was instrumental in orchestrating the company’s reunion with its European affiliate. Kelly is the former president of American Express Co.

Kelly already sits in Visa’s board. Following Scharf’s resignation he will take over as Visa’s CEO as on December 1.

During an interview, Kelly mentioned that he “got a front row seat to the various opportunities and issues the company faces” as a Visa board member since January 2014.

He went on to add, “I don’t come in here expecting to make a lot of big changes”.

In his resignation letter, Scharf told employees that after his resignation he would like to spend more time with friends and family.

Under Scharf, Visa’s shares have more than doubled in value. With the news of his resignation hitting the market, they were down by 1.2% to $81.19 in after-market trading.

Kelly takes the reins at Visa at a time when the company is facing multiple challenges, including appeals in federal court with prosecutors questioning a settlement with retailers who had accused MasterCard and Visa to fixing credit and debit card fees.

Currently, Visa is also engaged in a legal battle with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over the usage of PINs to verify transactions made over the company’s payment networks.

With non-traditional competitors, including PayPal Holdings Inc. vying to capture its market, Kelly will be looking to consolidate Visa’s position as the world’s largest payment network operator.

During a conference call with analysts, Kelly mentioned that he will be spending considerable time in San Francisco, Visa’s headquarters, Europe and China.

Scharf made Visa Europe’s integration with its parent’s network tighter. Having worked extensively in JPMorgan Chase & Co’s retail banking business and its private equity arm, Scharf joined Visa, as its CEO in November 2012.

“He has helped transform Visa .. into a technology-driven digital commerce company and has led a strategy that will benefit this company for years to come,” said Robert Matschullat, Visa’s independent chairman, in a statement.

Incidentally, Kelly is also the CEO of Intersection Co, a firm in which Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet Inc company, has a stake.

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Categories: Entrepreneurship, HR & Organization, Regulations & Legal, Strategy

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