Visa International has appointed Raymond Barnes to the newly established position of executive vice president, chief risk and administrative officer.

Mr. Barnes, 49, a Visa executive since 1992, will report to Edmund P. Jensen, the card association's president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Barnes started work last week at Visa's San Francisco base after a stint in London, where he was chief financial officer for its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. In that position, he restructured the region's cost base, bringing price breaks to members.

Mr. Barnes said his new responsibilities span virtually all activities where risks might arise, including finances, regulations, member activities, products, and systems.

"As our business gets bigger and more diverse, our board expressed a desire that there be some oversight coming to one desk to keep an eye on it," said Mr. Barnes. "There was no trigger for (this appointment) for any reason other than our growing size."

The move does appear to raise the profile of risk management in the Visa International hierarchy. Mr. Jensen said Mr. Barnes will be an adviser to his global senior management group, known as the management executive committee.

"It's not that we weren't managing risks before," Mr. Barnes said. "With our business growing more complicated, innovative, and covering more and more geographic territory, we thought it important that risk management be an adjunct to the chief executive's desk."

Mr. Barnes does not know yet how many people will be assigned to him. He does not, however, envision "a large bureaucracy," saying that would defeat the purpose of the new office.

"My goal is to make sure that as we develop new products, we have a look at the risk implications as we go along, so we don't get a surprise when we deliver it to the marketplace."

Before joining Visa in 1992, Mr. Barnes was a New York-based executive vice president for Australia's ANZ Bank, where he was responsible for all of their activities in Canada, the United States, and Latin America. He previously served as general manager and director for ANZ in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom.

Mr. Barnes worked earlier in his career with Hambros Bank and International Business Machines Corp.

"I've had the good fortune of experiencing work as a banker in nearly every part of the world where Visa does business," said Mr. Barnes. "I think that will be an asset for me."

Mr. Jensen said Mr. Barnes, a British native, will contribute to a necessary "internationalization" of Visa's headquarters' staff, as did the recent appointment of Frenchman Francois Dutray as executive vice president in the products group.

Mr. Dutray, 51, is responsible for identifying new product opportunities, technologies, and applications. He is also seeking to drive growth through acquisitions, partnerships, and other ventures, along with integrating new products into the overall organization.

"I felt strongly the need for more of an international perspective at headquarters," Mr. Jensen said. "It's becoming a very international team."

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