Visa names new CEO for next year

Visa President Ryan McInerney will become the card network company's next CEO next February as Al Kelly exits that role to become executive chairman

Visa CEO Al Kelly will step aside and the card network company will promote President Ryan McInerney to the chief executive role next February, the company said in a press release Thursday.

Kelly will stay on at the company as executive chairman. Visa, the biggest U.S. card network company, has been preparing McInerney for the top role for nearly a decade. He will take the new job on Feb. 1, according to the San Francisco-based company’s release.

“Ryan’s appointment reflects the Board’s very well-established and thoughtful succession plan,” the company’s lead independent board director, John Lundgren, said in the release.

McInerney, 47, was hired as Visa’s president in 2013. He came to the company from JPMorgan, where he had been CEO of consumer banking, among other roles, following the start of his career at the global consulting firm McKinsey, according to a Visa filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding his appointment. McInerney was unanimously elected by the board to the new role and he is expected to join it next year, the filing said.

“Ryan has boundless energy and passion for this business and in his role as President, and as my close partner for the past six years, he has become intimately familiar with how Visa operates and the exciting opportunities this industry presents,” Kelly said in the release.

Kelly, 64, has been CEO since 2016 and chairman since 2019. He has led Visa through a tumultuous period in recent years, guiding it through the COVID-19 pandemic starting in early 2020, racing to evacuate employees amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year and a roller-coaster ride for the company’s stock since 2020. The stock has edged down from a peak reached in mid-2021. 

In a presentation Tuesday at a Citi financial technology conference, McInerney extolled the company’s business opportunities across an array of segments, from business-to-business to earned wage access to remittances, and described the possibilities all over the world, from Africa to Canada. There is “tons of room to run,” he said. 

The transition comes as the international company is attempting to keep driving growth in a world facing economic challenges in many countries where the card company does business. After Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, Visa was forced to pull out of that region, and like other companies, it has been waiting on a full recovery of China from the jolt of the pandemic.

While Visa has managed to buoy profits and revenue despite the pandemic and other hurdles, with the help of a rise in e-commerce and debit card use, it has also faced questions about the expanding field of competition offering alternative payment tools, such as the buy now-pay later financing options.

When asked about possible acquisitions at the Citi conference, McInerney noted that the current world economic situation also offers more prospects for acquisitions.

“We think right now, and especially over the next 6, 12, 18 months, there should be a lot of opportunities, as you might expect,” McInerney said. “We are spending a lot of time understanding a lot of the different companies around the planet that play in all the areas of our value-added services business and beyond.”

The expertise he’s gained in his world travels for the company will direct any of those investments. “We're familiar with kind of how they make money, how they go to market, and those types of things,” he explained. “We certainly look to be an opportunistic investor and acquirer of companies over the foreseeable future.”

By Lynne Marek on Nov 18, 2022
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