Tuesday named a well-regarded banking executive to turn around its struggling credit card division.
Philip Heasley, a former
executive, has been named chairman and CEO of Bank One's First USA credit card division, succeeding Will Boardman, who plans to retire in mid-2001.
Heasley, 51, will report to CEO Jamie Dimon, whose arrival in March
inspired confidence in investors and analysts alike that Bank One will emerge invigorated from the problems that have plagued it over the past year.
For the most part, analysts view Heasley as a good choice, noting his solid track record at Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp. "He does bring experience in the credit card arena as well as senior banking responsibilities," says Joseph Duwan, banks analyst at
Keefe Bruyette & Woods
. "I think Bank One is moving beyond the stabilization aspect
at First USA. They are trying to plan ahead and grow the business." (He rates the stock market perform and his firm hasn't underwritten for Bank One.)
Indeed, the need for First USA to rev up its revenue engine was noted by a number of analysts in the wake of the company's
third-quarter earnings report last month. The credit card division was the first to experience problems in the year-ago third quarter, sparking a 30% slide in the stock in the ensuing months. With the arrival of former
executive Dimon in March, the stock rebounded and since is up about 40%, compared with a 30% gain in the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Banks Index
Jennifer Thompson, banks analyst at
Putnam Lovell & Thornton
, was surprised at the delay in hiring a new First USA chief, considering Bank One's high-profile restructuring. "It just seems like this should have been one of their first points" to focus on, she says. (She rates Bank One a hold and her firm hasn't underwritten for the bank.)
Referring to Heasley's experience at U.S. Bancorp, Thompson says the executive tended to focus on the retail side, as the bank didn't have a huge credit card business. "What they do have is a payment processing business, as well as Visa corporate cards, cash cards and government payment systems," the analyst says. "He did a good job at U.S. Bancorp. He's probably a good candidate."
Heasley spent 13 years in executive positions at Bank One, including six as vice chairman and the last two as president and operating chief. Prior to that he spent 13 years at what was then Citicorp, including three years as president and COO of Diners Club.
Bank One slipped 81 cents Tuesday to $36.69.