Fidelity National Information Services, the payments technology company known as FIS, said today that its current CEO, Gary Norcross, will exit Friday, sooner than previously planned, and, in another change, he won’t become executive chairman next year.
FIS had said in mid-October that the company’s president, Stephanie Ferris, would become CEO at the start of next year, but now she’ll take on that added role Friday, according to a company press release issued Thursday. And instead of Norcross heading the board next year, Jeffrey A. Goldstein, the board’s lead independent director, will become chairman Friday, with Norcross leaving the board.
The company, which provides payments processing services for banks and merchants, didn’t give an explanation for the change in plans. Nonetheless, it’s been struggling to improve its financial performance in recent months and recently implemented a “transformation” plan to be led by Ferris that’s aimed at cutting $500 million in expenses, or more, in an effort to right-size the company’s operations.
Investors have beat up the Jacksonville, Florida-based company’s stock this year, with shares dropping about 37%. That downward swing came as FIS grappled with a softening in demand from its bank customers and encountered a pullback in demand from some of its merchant clients, especially small- and mid-sized businesses.
Like other companies, FIS is now bracing for the impact of macroeconomic headwinds that could further erode demand. Banks in recent weeks have cut thousands of employees as they prepare for a possible recession.
“FIS is well positioned for growth across our markets and we are moving forward with this new Board leadership structure from a position of great opportunity,” Goldstein said in the release. “The Board is confident (Ferris) is the ideal leader to take the Company forward and enhance shareholder value.”
As president, Ferris has steered the company’s global business strategy, including its acquisition playbook, and its operations for financial institutions, merchants and corporate clients. She was promoted to the FIS president post earlier this year after having served as the company’s chief administrative officer.
Ferris joined the company as chief operating officer in 2019 after FIS acquired Worldpay, where she had been the chief financial officer, and she led the integration of the companies.
Norcross had been the company’s CEO since 2015 and had held the chairman role since 2018. Overall, he had been in leadership roles at the company for 20 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In an Oct. 18 press release, when the company said that Norcross would become executive chairman, it had extolled his leadership as having “delivered consistent and profitable financial performance” as it grew from a $6 billion business to a $14 billion global business.
Thursday, the company had little to say about Norcross other than to note that he was a 34-year veteran of the company and that he would depart from the board as of Friday. “The Board and I believe now is the right time to transition to an independent Board Chair structure, and we are confident that Jeffrey is the right person to lead this transition,” Norcross said in Thursday’s release.