Visa Promotes Exec to Asia-Pacific Helm

SAN FRANCISCO — Visa International named Rupert G. Keeley president of its Asia-Pacific region, succeeding Dennis Goggin, who is retiring May 1.Mr. Keeley was previously head of finance, administration, and marketing for Visa International, having joined the card association in February 1999. “In his relatively short time at Visa International, Rupert has already made a major contribution toward positioning Visa for the future,” said Malcolm Williamson, president and chief executive officer at Visa. “Rupert brings not only management savvy but a proven track record for driving business results in this key part of the world.”

Before joining Visa, Mr. Keeley worked for Standard Chartered Bank, most recently as group head of marketing for its global consumer business in Singapore. He also was chief executive of Standard Chartered’s Bahrain operations and head of Gulf Consumer Banking. Before that, Mr. Keeley was head of corporate banking marketing at Girobank in London.

“I am delighted to be able to return to Asia at a time when there is such tremendous potential to extend Visa’s leadership in the region,” Mr. Keeley said.

Mr. Goggin spent four years as Visa’s head of the Asia-Pacific region. He also had spent 23 years at Chase Manhattan Corp. in international banking, holding positions in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Under Mr. Goggin’s watch, Visa Asia-Pacific launched a number of emerging payment technologies, including Internet trading hubs and partnerships with smart card and wireless companies.

Just 2 Bidders Still Vying for Mexico Bank

MEXICO CITY — Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival SA and the U.S. banking company Citigroup Inc. have declined to bid for Mexico’s third-largest bank, Grupo Financiero Serfin SA, reducing the participants in the state-sponsored bidding to two European banks.Banamex and Citigroup, which had registered to bid for Serfin in mid-March, did not disclose their reasons for not bidding.

Spain’s No. 1 bank, Banco Santander Central Hispano SA, and HSBC Holdings PLC have handed in their sealed technical and economic bids for the Mexican bank, which is expected to be sold in a couple of weeks for about $650 million.

The Mexican government, which seized Serfin last year, will study Santander’s and HSBC’s technical proposals. On May 8 it will open the economic bids and declare a winner.

American Express’ 1Q Profits Grow 14%

NEW YORK — American Express Co. said first-quarter profits rose 14% as it earned more fees from issuing cards and selling mutual funds.New York-based American Express said first-quarter net income rose to $656 million, or $1.44 a share, up from $575 million, or $1.26 a share, a year earlier. The results matched the most optimistic estimate for American Express’ earnings. The average forecast among 15 analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial was $1.42.

Earnings from American Express’ card and travel unit increased 15% to $416 million. Profit at the unit was bolstered by a 16% increase in revenue, as the company took in more fees and issued more cards. — Bloomberg News

Airline Grounds Alliance with Amex Bank

TORONTO — Canadian Airlines Corp., acquired by rival Air Canada in January, has pulled out of a 10-year rewards partner program with American Express Co.’s Amex Bank of Canada.Amex Bank’s cardholders can no longer redeem their American Express loyalty rewards points for Canadian Airlines tickets.

Canadian Airlines, under bankruptcy protection, suspended its contract with Amex Bank two years sooner than the 2002 expiration date, after the bank failed to agree to the airline’s revised terms on payment and incentives, said Amex Bank spokesman David Barnes.

— Bloomberg News

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