Visa International has elected a British banker as chairman and has changed the job description of one of its top European executives.

At the Visa board meeting last week in Cancun, Mexico, Peter Ellwood of London-based TSB Group was named chairman, succeeding Venezuelan banker S. Henry Benacerraf.

Also, Anne L. Cobb, an executive vice president based in London, was named general manager of a new European product development office, reporting to Wesley Tallman in San Francisco.

Latin America Post Retained

Mr. Benacerraf, president of Banco Union in Caracas, was chairman for seven years. He will remain on the Visa International board and retain his other post as chairman for the Latin American region.

Mr. Ellwood is chief executive of TSB Group and TSB Bank, a one-time thrift that has become one of the top retail banks in the United Kingdom, with 1,300 branches. In the 1980s he ran Barclays Bank's Barclaycard program, the anchor of the Visa program in Britain.

Mr. Ellwood has been a Visa International director for five years, and is retaining the post of chairman of the Europe-Middle East-Africa region, known within the card group as EMEA.

Ms. Cobb, who joined EMEA in 1992 after working for MasterCard's Eurocard affiliate, will retain her current title of executive vice president of business development. As general manager of European product development, she will be responsible for bringing "the European product perspective [to] international product development," Visa said.

Smart Card a Priority

Her office may also develop products unique to Europe that could be expanded to other regions.

Immediate priorities include products based on chip, or smart card, technology, said Mr. Tallman, Visa International president of product development and information systems.

"The new product office will enable the European experience with chip, deposit access [also known as debit], and home banking to be shared worldwide, as well as ensuring that European needs are satisfied within product development activities," Mr. Tallman said.

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