Thomas B. Shepard, Visa International's new executive vice president of global marketing partnerships and sponsorships, said the company is winnowing its list of cobranding partners, jettisoning relationships that are not paying off in favor of those that are.

"We saw a large explosion of cobranding programs" in the '90s, he said. "Now that's been distilled to those that have the highest-value proposition to cardholders."

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