The unexpected resignation last month of H. Robert Heller as president and chief executive of Visa U.S.A. suddenly put a spotlight on Carl F. Pascarella, who was named immediately to succeed Mr. Heller.

That spotlight becomes literal next Wednesday in Washington, where Mr. Pascarella, like MasterCard U.S.A. president Peter S.P. Dimsey, makes his first major address at the American Bankers Association's national bank card conference.

Mr. Pascarella, 50, had been based in Tokyo as chief executive of Visa's Asia-Pacific region.

"I'm looking forward to ABA with mixed emotions," he said. "On one hand, I've spent a total of about four days in the U.S. since the announcement was made, so I'm not going to be immersed in all the issues. On the other hand it gives me an opportunity to meet people and soak up what the issues are."

Mr. Pascarella said he would touch on a handful of topics that are of utmost importance to Visa members, including the debit card program and the early success of PS 2000, a payment system upgrade that he said has saved members close to $50 million since taking effect in April.

A Decade in Asia

Mr. Pascarella has been based in Asia since January 1983, when he was named assistant chief general manager. He was appointed regional president soon after.

Before joining Visa, Mr. Pascarella was a vice president in the international division of Crocker National Bank, San Francisco. Earlier he served as a vice president of metropolitan banking at Bankers Trust Co.

With a combination of banking and international experience, he is seen as the front-runner to succeed Charles T. Russell as president of Visa International. Mr. Russell, 63, has not announced his retirement plans.

"His successes as a U.S. banker and in the international marketplace will help solidify our global payment systems strategy," Mr. Russell said when Mr. Pascarella took the U.S. job on Aug. 30.

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