Here’s Why Visa CEO’s Resignation Is Shocking

October 17, 2016, 9:22 PM UTC
Key Speakers At The U.S.-Africa Business Forum
Charles Scharf, chief executive officer of Visa, speaks during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. The forum focuses on trade and investment opportunities on the continent for African heads of government and American business leaders. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michael Nagle — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Visa (V) said Chief Executive Charlie Scharf has decided to resign, effective Dec. 1.

The company named Alfred Kelly Jr, a former president of American Express (AXP) and a current Visa board member, as CEO.

Visa said Scharf had informed the board that he decided to resign because he could no longer spend the time in San Francisco necessary to do the job effectively.

The resignation is a surprise in part because Visa’s stock has been such a stellar performer. Shares of the credit card company are up 134% since Scharf took over November of 2012. Before that Scharf had been a top executive at J.P. Morgan Chase, and one of the top advisers to the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon during the financial crisis. Fortune profiled Scharf in 2014. At the time, his strategy to turn around Visa seemed to be in place.

(Related: Credit Cards Are Offering Customers Crazy Deals)

Scharf has helped transform Visa into a “technology-driven digital commerce company and has led a strategy that will benefit this company for years to come,” said Robert Matschullat, Visa‘s independent chairman.

Scharf has recruited a number of Visa executives from J.P. Morgan.

Visa closed its deal for former unit Visa Europe in June. The deal was valued at as much as $23.3 billion when it was announced in November.

Kelly spent a decade and a half at American Express, running a number of the charge card company’s businesses, including travelers checks. He was the chairman of the committee that brought the Super Bowl to New Jersey in 2014. Before that, in the mid-1980s, he was head of IT at the White House.

Visa’s shares were down slightly in after hours trading after the surprise CEO switch.

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