Las Vegas. Aria hotel. Electric violins. Strobe lights. Frank Bisignano takes the stage. A woman in silver leggings struts down the aisle. She’s delivering what the audience really came to see: a new system for accepting credit-card payments.
That November 2014 extravaganza was Bisignano all over: a heap of dazzle and a dash of self-promotion to make what could be boring fun. Now Bisignano, a 56-year-old who’s spent 30 years cleaning up messes at Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., faces what may be his biggest challenge yet: taking First Data Corp. public for Henry Kravis and George Roberts, co-founders of KKR & Co. It’s a tall order for the man colleagues call Wall Street’s Mr. Fix-It, especially with world financial markets in one of their most volatile runs in years. KKR took the payment-technology firm private in 2007 in a top-of-the-market purchase that loaded the company with $22 billion in debt. First Data’s finances are in better shape now, but it’s still debt-saddled, and revenue is growing slower than rivals.