Chenault is new No. 2 at American Express As president, he becomes Golub's heir apparent

February 28, 1997|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- American Express Co. named Kenneth Chenault president and chief operating officer yesterday, making him heir apparent to Chairman Harvey Golub.

Chenault, 45, a vice chairman who runs the charge card and international businesses, will oversee day-to-day operations of the New York-based financial services company. The move makes Chenault, one of the highest-ranking black executives in the nation, the likely successor when Golub retires in seven years at age 65.

"This move clearly recognizes Ken as the No. 2 executive in the company and the primary internal candidate to succeed me when the time comes," Golub said in a statement.

American Express, one of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial average, has been grooming Chenault to run the company for years, testing him with increasingly broad duties. In 1995, he was named vice chairman and a member of the company's senior management group in the office of the chief executive.

Chenault fills a position that's been open since Jeffrey Stiefler unexpectedly resigned in late 1995.

Chenault has worked for the company since 1981, and will oversee most major businesses immediately. After a transition period, he will assume oversight of American Express Financial Advisors and American Express Bank.

In the last five years, Chenault has been responsible for overseeing broad changes as American Express tried to regain ground lost to Visa and MasterCard, and slash costs worldwide.

The company has added dozens of American Express charge cards and Optima credit cards aimed at new markets.

Operating income at the company's travel-related services unit, which Chenault oversaw, rose 13 percent to $1.23 billion in 1996. Chenault also oversaw a drive that's slashed annual costs by $1 billion since 1993. Last month, American Express unveiled another phase of its cost-cutting effort, announcing plans to fire 3,300 people.

American Express stock closed yesterday at $64.375, down $1.635.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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