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Is The Amex Board Losing Patience With Ken Chenault?

Fox Business reported on Monday (March 7), citing sources at American Express, that Ken Chenault, chief executive officer of the payments giant, may be on the way out, amid simmering tensions with the board of directors. And there’s another shoe to drop in the form of a possible sale to a suitor that “would settle the succession issue,” while, at the same time, lifting a stock that has dropped by more than 25 percent in the past year.

Wells Fargo may be among the suitors, said Fox, with the company possibly interested in Amex due chiefly to a desire to build out a credit card business. No comment came to Fox from Wells Fargo; Amex, for its part, said it is not for sale.

As has been well-documented, the current CEO's struggles are ongoing, as Chenault has sought to gain traction with a $1 billion cost-cutting effort, announced last month, that has done relatively nothing for the stock price.

Separately, Amex has lost its 16-year relationship with retailing firm Costco, which has opted instead to partner with Visa, in a spat over fees. Among other companies that have jumped ship from Amex is JetBlue, which is now partnering with Barclays and MasterCard. Starwood Hotels was bought by Marriott, which has a partnership in place with Chase, so that relationship with Amex may conceivably be severed.

Also, separately, Fox noted that the invitation-only card product known as the “Black Card” (formally, the "Centurion Card") is having difficulty, as users want relatively better fees.

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