AmEx Promotes Squeri to Vice Chairman After Gilligan’s Death

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Steve Squeri
American Express Vice Chairman Steve Squeri. Source: American Express via Bloomberg

American Express Co. named Steve Squeri vice chairman as the biggest U.S. credit-card issuer by purchases realigns its management following the death last month of President Ed Gilligan.

Squeri, 56, will assume responsibility for the firm’s small-business initiative and enterprise growth, as well as continue to oversee global corporate payments and the global services group, the New York-based lender said Wednesday in a statement.

“These additional responsibilities are a reflection of Steve’s strong track record in leading several of our businesses over his 30-year AmEx career and will broaden his experience in some key areas of our company,” Chief Executive Officer Ken Chenault, 64, said in the statement.

Gilligan, a 35-year AmEx veteran who was seen as a candidate to eventually run the company, died May 29 on a return trip from Tokyo after suffering an embolism and subsequent heart attack, a person briefed on the matter has said. Squeri’s expanded role means he’s viewed as Chenault’s No. 2 and next in line as a possible successor, according to analysts including Janney Montgomery Scott’s Sameer Gokhale.

“Investors will be looking for leadership from him and to see that he is able to execute on the businesses he’s been charged with,” Gokhale said in a phone interview. “He has some big shoes to fill.”

Challenging Times

Squeri assumes new responsibilities amid a series of setbacks for AmEx this year. The lender said in February it was parting ways with Costco Wholesale Corp., its biggest retail partner, and lost an antitrust ruling that could make it harder to charge higher fees to merchants. Shares of AmEx have declined 13 percent this year, the second-worst performance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Squeri has been head of the company’s global corporate services group since November 2011, responsible for the corporate payments business and AmEx’s global travel joint venture. Last year, AmEx completed the sale of a 50 percent stake in the business-travel division to an investor group that includes Certares International Bank LLC, Qatar Holding LLC and funds managed by BlackRock Inc. and Macquarie Capital Group Ltd.

Along with Squeri’s promotion, AmEx announced that Doug Buckminster, president of the international card business; Josh Silverman, who heads the consumer products group; and Anre Williams, president of global merchant services, will now report directly to Chenault, according to the statement. Paul Fabara, president of global banking, was elected as an officer, reporting to Chenault, as well.

John Hayes, chief marketing officer, will be taking on more responsibilities for developing AmEx’s digital partnerships, according to the statement. Details about his group’s strategy will be announced in coming weeks, AmEx said.

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