Visa Selects Scharf To Succeed Saunders As CEO

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Visa Inc (NYSE:V), the world’s largest payments network, announced today, that it has selected Charles Scharf, the former head of retail banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), to succeed Joseph W. Saunders as chief executive officer.

Visa Selects Scharf To Succeed Saunders As CEO

Scharf, 47, was working with JPMorgan’s private-equity unit, One Equity Partners, as a partner where he was transferred from retail-banking division in June 2011. He was previously Chief Financial Officer of Bank One from 2000 to 2002, and spent 13 years at Citigroup and its predecessor companies, serving as Chief Financial Officer for Citigroup’s Global Corporate and Investment Bank, prior to joining Bank One. He served on the Board of Visa U.S.A. from 2003 to 2007 and the Visa Inc. Board from 2007 to January 2011.

“Visa has done a series of things, both in terms of rolling out new organic products, as well as some of the acquisitions that have been made, to take advantage of the new technologies and adapt to the environment,” Scharf said. “My goal is to continue that and accelerate it as the business continues to change”.

John A. Swainson, Visa Inc (NYSE:V)’s lead director, said in the statement, “Charlie understands the payments business and the priorities of our clients through his deep, rich history in the payments space”.

The California-based company revealed that Scharf will be paid a base salary of $950,000 and be eligible to receive a target bonus that is 250 percent of that amount, with a maximum bonus opportunity of 500 percent. The payment gateway firm will also pay the so-called make-whole payment, valued at $19 million.

Saunders, 66, has led Visa since its 2008 initial public offering, and revealed in May that the firm had been working on succession planning for a year. Under Saunders’ leadership, Visa has withered many challenges including new rules on debit-card fees and processing that helped MasterCard Inc. (NYSE:MA) gain market share. During Saunders tenure, the company settled $6.6 billion litigation with merchants over credit-card fees, which had been going on for seven years.

“I have known Charlie Scharf for almost a decade and I believe he is uniquely qualified to lead Visa,” Saunders said in the statement. “He has a record of profitably growing businesses and managing complex, large-scale global enterprises”.

Scharf will take over effective Nov. 1 and will become a Visa director as the board expands to 11 from 10. Visa Inc (NYSE:V) gained 0.9 percent in early trading sessions, in New York, while this year up till now, the stock advanced 35 percent, beating the 14 percent gain for the 70-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Information Technology Index. It’s tripled since Visa Inc (NYSE:V)’s March 2008 IPO.

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