Kenneth Chenault: No Recount Needed Here

The future is arriving four months early at American Express. On Nov. 17, Harvey Golub announced that he will step down as CEO at yearend instead of next April, as originally planned. Golub, 61, says he decided to leave early because his chosen successor, Kenneth Chenault, 49, is ready to take over. The CEO has been methodically shifting his executive responsibilities to Chenault since naming him president and COO in 1997. Golub is expected to transfer the chairman's title to his protege at AmEx' annual meeting in April.

Chenault's ascent is unlikely to bring big changes at the credit-card and travel services giant. The 19-year AmEx vet played the key supporting role in Golub's back-to-basics retooling in the '90s. AmEx looks set to post record earnings in 2000 for the second successive year. Chenault's challenge will be to keep revenue chugging at 15% a year as the economy slows. To do so, he'll have to cook up new ways to chip away at the market share of archrivals Visa USA and MasterCard International.

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