- Mastercard Executive Chairman Ajay Banga,61, will retire from his role as Mastercard's executive chairman, the company said Tuesday in a press release. In January, he turned his former CEO role over to Michael Miebach after holding that post for a decade.
- The board voted to appoint Merit Janow, currently its lead independent director, as the new non-executive independent chair, effective also Jan 1. She is dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
- As executive chairman, Banga has acted as counselor to Miebach and smoothed the way to his building "key external relationships," including with customers and regulators, the company said in the press release. Before becoming CEO, Miebach was the company's chief product officer.
The company said Banga's upcoming exit was part of a "planned board leadership transition" initiated last February with the CEO change announcement, though the timing of his retirement had not been previously announced.
During his decade as CEO, Banga managed the second-largest U.S. card company through the aftermath of the Great Recession and led it to digital and international expansion. The Purchase, New York-based card company's annual revenue tripled to $15 billion during his tenure, according to regulatory filings.
Still, the company's annual revenue and net income edged down last year as the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll, with consumers cutting back on travel due to concerns about contracting the virus and government restrictions and also reducing use of their credit cards because of unemployment or financial uncertainty.
The tribulations presented by the pandemic have also made it more difficult for card companies to increase their pricing. Mastercard and its larger rival Visa this year postponed a planned interchange rate increase for the second year in a row in the face of pressure not to boost the rates.
Banga, who was born in India and began his career at Nestle, has been the face of Mastercard and cultivated high-profile ties for the business. His public appearances this year have included meeting with Vice President Kamala about his work with the non-profit Partnership for Central America and speaking to the Washington Post about the impact of the pandemic's "heart-breaking" impact on his native India.
Janow thanked and praised Banga in the release for his service, as did Miebach. “His strategic and cultural vision transformed the company into what it is today — a leading payments technology company renowned for the strength of its management, extensive partnerships with organizations of all kinds, and an inclusive mindset and innovative approach to everything," Janow said.