American Express President Ed Gilligan Dies Suddenly On Flight To New York

30 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AmEx president dies suddenly after falling ill on flight.

Edward Gilligan, the president of American Express Co and heir apparent to CEO Kenneth Chenault, died on Friday after falling ill during a flight to New York. The company’s CEO in a letter to the staff stated, “Ed Gilligan’s contributions have left an indelible imprint on practically every area of our business, from commercial card and travel to international, consumer, small business, merchant services, network services and, most recently, the group forging our digital partnerships and driving payment innovations.” The company recently announced that it would end a 16-year relationship with Costco Wholesale in which its plastic was the only credit card accepted at the warehouse club. AmEx also lost an antitrust lawsuit that was filed by the Justice Department. “In our view, his name was at the top of any succession planning and his absence obviously hurts,” wrote Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, in a note to clients.

As a result, Gilligan was viewed as a potential candidate to eventually succeed Chenault, said Jim Shanahan, financial services analyst at Edward Jones. “In my mind, he would have probably been one of a few people on a very short list, at least of internal candidates, to replace him at some point,” Shanahan said. He returned to the US in 2009 and led efforts to integrate American Express into social media, helping to embed the company’s offerings on Facebook, as well as through tech companies like Uber Inc. “Ed loved to talk tech.

American Express has a “very deep management team,” and it’s possible someone else could be promoted to a more senior role and groomed for leadership of the company, Shanahan added. American Express faces an unusual conundrum as boards typically plan ahead for the sudden demise of their leader, rather than the heir apparent, one succession specialist said. Chenault said at the time that the news would affect one-tenth of all American Express cards, describing it as a financial blow that would hurt the company’s results for two years.

In April, the company announced it would increase the annual fee on some of its popular charge cards, while also noting it would be beefing up some of those cards’ benefits as well. Directors likely will quickly identify other potential Chenault successors and try “to put them on an accelerated development path,” predicted Jeffrey Cohn, who advises on CEO succession. “The problem is there is no such thing as accelerated development” for a CEO role, he said. “It takes time.” Mr Chenault, CEO since 2001, hasn’t given any indication that he plans to step down.

Hayes, chief marketing officer since 2003; Joshua Silverman, president of consumer products and a former eBay executive; Steve Squeri, who runs the corporate business and has been with the company for more than a decade; and Jeffrey Campbell, who was hired from McKesson Corp. in 2013 as chief financial officer. The unexpected CEO succession crisis at American Express underscores the fact that “you can’t have all your eggs in one basket,” said Paul Winum, head of the board and CEO services practice at RHR International, a leadership development firm. “A good succession plan has to have multiple candidates.” Mr Gilligan started at AmEx in a temporary accounting position in 1980 while he was a student at New York University, where he received an undergraduate degree in economics and management. He also worked for the company in London, where he led its international consumer-card business. “Ed was a terrific friend who I’ve always held in the highest regard. Gilligan is survived by his wife and four children. “This is deeply painful and frankly unimaginable for all of us who had the great fortune to work with Ed,” Mr.

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