Visa International last week announced a worldwide reorganization of the credit card and travelers' check company. The move, which grants more autonomy to regional boards, reflects the increasing importance of overseas operations and will enable Visa's foreign member banks to compete more effectively on their own turf.
Dee W. Hock, president and chief exexecutive officer of Visa International, called the reorganization as important as the company's change of name in 1977 from BankAmericard to Visa, a word in common usage throughout the world.
Visa's volume has grown in the past five years to $45.7 billion, but the share of business generated in America has shrunk from 75 percent to about 64 percent. "The vast majority of Visa's future growth will be outside the U.S. and Canada," said Hock.
American representation on Visa's international board, which has been increased from eight to 20 members, will diminish as international business represents a bigger share. Prior to reorganization, Visa International's management located in San Francisco, together with the board, made virtually all decisions affecting the worldwide operations. Only the U.S. and Canadian divisions were autonomous.
Hock announced creation of five regional boards, whose presidents will be equals in the corporate hierarchy, reporting to him. Charles T. Russell, formerly executive vice president of both Visa USA and Visa International, becomes president of Visa USA. The other boards encompass the regions of Europe, the Mideast and Africa; Latin America; Asia/Pacific; and Canada.
Each board will be free to set fees, enlist member banks, develop systems and engage in other activities, provided they do not contradict central policy. The international board will continue to oversee matters "essential to uniformity," such as the use of the Visa mark.