Update: 5/15/07 - Visa names Joseph Saunders as Chairman and CEO of Visa Inc.
Visa has announced that Joseph W. Saunders has been named Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Visa Inc. According to Visa, "Saunders will be responsible for leading Visa's transition to a global public company. He also will help recruit a chief executive officer and board members for Visa Inc." Saunders is leaving Washington Mutual where Anthony (Tony) F. Vuoto has been named president of the company's credit card business.
Initially, Saunders will begin fulfilling the responsibilities of this position as a designated appointee of Visa Inc. and will officially assume the title of Executive Chairman of the Board once Visa Inc. is formed later this year. Pending member and regulatory approval, Visa Inc. will be created through a series of mergers involving Visa Canada, Visa USA and Visa International.
"Joe will play a critically important role at Visa during our transition, using his experience as a leader at public companies in the payments industry to help us create a world-class organization that is well positioned for growth," said William I. Campbell, chairman of the Visa International's Board of Directors. "His strong reputation and contacts within the business community will enhance our ability to attract top-tier talent to lead Visa Inc."
"This is an exciting time in Visa's history and I am very proud to join the team leading the company through this transition," said Saunders. "I look forward to using my industry knowledge and my experience helping companies with significant integration and restructuring projects to contribute to Visa's continued success."
Visa's boards of directors unanimously approved Saunders' appointment to this position based on his vast industry experience and his role as a member of the boards of directors for Visa USA and Visa International. Based in San Francisco, he will report directly to Visa Inc.'s Transition Governance Committee, which has governance authority over the restructuring process and is comprised of representatives from all of the Visa regions, Inovant and Visa International. As a result of his appointment to this position, Saunders relinquished his role on other Visa Boards. He will serve as chairman or lead director of Visa Inc.'s board of directors through its eventual initial public offering.
Campbell said, "The depth and variety of Joe's experience will allow him to provide valuable input to the governance, structure and organization of Visa Inc. as we prepare to eventually become a public company. His experience and insight will be particularly valuable to such important tasks as developing Visa Inc.'s board of directors, organizational structure and corporate policies."
Saunders' career in financial services spans more than 30 years. Most recently, he served as president of card services for Washington Mutual, having joined the company following its acquisition of Providian Financial in 2005. Saunders joined Providian Financial in 2001 as president and chief executive officer, and was elected chairman of its board of directors in 2002. From 1997 to 2001, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of Fleet Credit Card Services at FleetBoston Financial Corporation.
Prior to joining FleetBoston, Saunders spent twelve years at Household International, where he held various senior roles, including chief executive of card services and head of the private label credit card business. While at Household, he also served as a member of MasterCard International's board of directors from 1993 to 1997 and served one term as chairman of that board in 1996.
Saunders received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of Denver.