Mastercard CEO says it’s important to know when it’s time to step aside


Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga told CNBC Tuesday that he has led the company for more than a decade and that it is time to pass the baton.

He will transition out of the roles next year, ceding the chief executive seat on Jan. 1 and the president title months later to current Chief Product Officer Michael Miebach.

“When I joined I told everybody that I’d give it a 10-year crack. This is the 11th year and so it’s fine,” said Banga, joined by Miebach, in a “Mad Money” interview with Jim Cramer. “Knowing when to step aside is as important as knowing when to drive.”

Banga endorsed the incoming CEO for his understanding of the payments industry, geographies and the company culture. Under Banga’s tutelage since the summer of 2010, Mastercard stock rose from about $20 per share to $302.89 as of Tuesday’s close for a 1,470% return, according to FactSet.

Miebach, who has been with the financial services company for a decade, is credited with building out its multi-rail strategy, including the $920 million acquisition of British payments technology firm Vocalink in 2016. He told Cramer about his plans to continue expanding Mastercard beyond card payments into mobile wallets, push payments, business-to-business transactions and more.

Mastercard is a partner in the Goldman Sachs-backed Apple Card launched by Apple last year.

“I believe there is huge opportunity to partner and drive the overall payment ecosystem ahead,” Miebach said.

One project that Mastercard is focused is launching a joint venture with NetsUnion Clearing Corporation to handle bank card clearing operations in China after receiving approval from the People’s Bank of China earlier this month.

“We’re going to be the majority holder of that JV and we’re going to work with them locally on the ground,” Banga said. “I’m excited, but it’s a year and a half away.”

Mastercard shares fell 6.7% in Tuesday’s session, though, on news that the company said the coronavirus outbreak could negatively impact revenues this quarter by 2% to 3%. Wall Street is estimating Mastercard’s sales to come in at $4.3 billion for the quarter.

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