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Visa credit card company announces new CEO

Summary

Joseph Saunders will be the new CEO for the Visa credit card company.

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Visa announced that it had named Joseph Saunders to the posts of chairman and chief executive ahead of its planned public offering later in the year.  Visa had appointed Saunders to help find a chief executive, but eventually decided he was the best choice for CEO.

Saunders joined Visa’s board of directors in February as executive chairman.  Earlier, Saunders served as president of card services at Washington Mutual. He joined that bank following its acquisition of Saunder’s former employer, Providian Financial.

As CEO, Saunders will oversee Visa’s transformation from a bank-owned cooperative to a publicly traded payments company.  In October 2006, Visa stated its intention to restructure and sell stock via an initial public offering.  The IPO’s timing has yet to be announced.

Many details of the planned IPO remain unknown, since Visa has yet to file a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In going public, Visa will follow the lead of MasterCard, whose shares have risen sharply since the company went public in May.

Saunders is coming on board as Visa CEO at a time of major change for the payments industry.  Among these shifts is the increased use of credit cards and debit cards by both consumers and businesses in place of traditional cash and checks.

Meanwhile, the payments industry is working to boost transaction volume through new payments methods, such as contactless credit cards and making payments with a cellphone.

Visa posted transactions of $4.6 trillion in 2006, a 14 percent increase from the prior year.  Debit and prepaid cards now comprise 60 percent of Visa’s global total consumer volume and over 67 percent of the number of transactions.

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