American Express Board of Directors Adds Palmisano, Lauvergeon

American Express Co., the biggest U.S. credit-card issuer by customer spending, named former International Business Machines Corp. Chief Executive Officer Samuel J. Palmisano and former Areva SA chief Anne Lauvergeon to its board.

The two were chosen for business expertise and leadership experience, AmEx Chairman and CEO Kenneth I. Chenault said today in statements from the New York-based company. The appointments are effective March 1, AmEx said.

Palmisano, 61, was CEO of IBM from 2003 to 2011 and joined the Armonk, New York-based company in 1973. He was chairman of IBM, the world’s biggest computer-services provider, from January through September 2012 and continued to advise the company until his retirement last December. He also serves on the board of Exxon Mobil Corp., based in Irving, Texas, and ranked as the world’s biggest refiner.

Lauvergeon, 53, is a partner and managing director of Efficiency Capital, an investment firm that focuses on energy, technologies, and natural resources, according to AmEx. She previously worked at Alcatel-Lucent, as well as Lazard Frères & Cie, according the statement. In 1999, Lauvergeon was named chairman and CEO of Cogema, which was later formed into Paris-based Areva, serving as CEO from 2001 to 2011, AmEx said.

Billionaire Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the largest shareholder in American Express, has praised Palmisano.

IBM’s Prominence

Former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner and Palmisano “did a superb job in moving IBM from near-bankruptcy twenty years ago to its prominence today,” Buffett wrote in a letter to shareholders last year explaining his bet on the computer-services company. “Their operational accomplishments were truly extraordinary.”

Lauvergeon and Palmisano are additions to the board. AmEx directors may not stand for re-election after age 72, according to the company’s 2012 proxy statement.

AmEx’s board had 12 members last year including Care Capital LLC founder Jan C. Leschly and Phoenix House Foundation Inc. founder Edward D Miller, whose age was listed as 71 in the regulatory filing. AmEx hasn’t announced retirements of Leschly or Miller.

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