Visa promotes McInerney to CEO as Kelly moves to board

Credit card is seen in front of displayed Visa logo in this illustration taken, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Visa Inc (V.N) on Thursday named its president, Ryan McInerney, as its new chief executive officer to steer the company through a challenging period for the payments industry as consumers tighten their belts.

McInerney will take the helm in February, replacing Alfred Kelly Jr, who has been CEO since 2016.

Sharply higher prices for everyday goods have squeezed consumers in recent months, clouding the outlook for payments companies for next year.

"Ryan's challenge as a CEO during this time is that we're in inflationary times," said Darrin Peller, managing director at Wolfe Research, told Reuters. Financial markets will probably view the leadership change positively since the incoming chief was groomed for the role during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

The company will need to focus on growing profit and reducing expenses amid the uncertain economic environment, Peller added.

Kelly, who has been Visa's chairman since 2019, will become executive chairman of the board. During his tenure, a boom in financial technology companies and digital lenders fueled competition with traditional players.

He also led Visa during a high-profile standoff with e-commerce giant Inc (AMZN.O), which considered dropping Visa as a partner on its U.S. co-branded credit card. He also halted operations in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, Visa reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings as more Americans took advantage of a stronger dollar to fly to international destinations and splurge on shopping and entertainment.

The world's biggest payments processor's shares, which are down nearly 3% this year, have outperformed the benchmark S&P 500 Index (.SPX).

Reporting by Manya Saini in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Maju Samuel, Lananh Nguyen and Deepa Babington

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