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Monitise names former Visa executive as co-CEO

By Aastha Agnihotri

(Reuters) - Monitise Plc has hired a former Visa Inc executive to co-run the company as it pursues a sevenfold increase in the number of customers using its mobile banking and payment systems.

Shares of Monitise rose as much as 7.1 percent on Wednesday after the company announced the appointment of Elizabeth Buse as co-chief executive.

Buse, 53, will work alongside Monitise's founder and current chief executive, Alastair Lukies. Her appointment is effective immediately.

"Her joining gives a lot of credibility to Monitise as a business and to their claim of gaining market share," said Ali Khwaja, analyst at Berenberg Bank.

Founded in 2003, Monitise says it processes mobile payments, purchases and transfers to the value of $71 billion annually. Its customers include Telefonica SA, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, MasterCard Inc and Visa.

The company, which has a market capitalisation of 1.17 billion pounds ($1.96 billion), this year unveiled plans to increase the number of its registered users to 200 million by 2018 from 28 million.

"Buse's appointment ... adds operational expertise just as the company is ramping up its effort to grow users," Mark Palmer, analyst at BTIG, wrote in a note.

Buse spent 16 years at Visa and was a leading candidate for the top job at the world's largest credit and debit card company before the October 2012 appointment of JPMorgan veteran Charlie Scharf, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

She held several senior positions at Visa before stepping down in March as executive vice-president of solutions. She served on Monitise's board from July 2010 until October 2012.

Buse, a U.S. national, will take over the running of Monitise's day-to-day operations and will oversee technology, sales and marketing. Lukies will focus on corporate development and key relationships with partners and major shareholders.

"The co-CEO approach has been more successful when there is a clear separation of areas of responsibility," said Palmer.

Monitise derives about 40 percent of its revenue from the Americas, 40 percent from Britain and 20 percent from the rest of the world.

"We are actually planning to expand in all our geographies," Buse, who will divide her time between Monitise's London and California offices, said in an interview.

"We already have business in Asia-Pacific - that's a big opportunity. South America is a big opportunity for us," she said. "The U.S is a very large revenue market for us, and we expect that to continue to grow."

Buse holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from the Haas School at the University of California Berkeley. She has been granted 5 million share options with an exercise price of 1 pence.

Monitise's shares were up 3.6 percent at 65.50 pence at 1253 GMT. ($1 = 0.5974 British Pounds)

(Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Robin Paxton)

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