By Patrick Thomas
Kenneth Chenault, the former chairman and chief executive of American Express Co., is stepping down next year from his board roles at International Business Machines Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co.
Mr. Chenault, 67 years old, plans to retire from the boards of IBM and P&G on Feb. 13, the companies said Thursday in securities filings.
P&G said Mr. Chenault made the decision to provide more time to focus on a range of activities in the next phase of his life. He joined the board of the Cincinnati-based consumer-products giant in 2008.
At IBM, Mr. Chenault served as a director for more than 20 years, the company said.
The exits come less than a year after the Long Island, N.Y., native joined the boards of Facebook Inc. and Airbnb Inc. He also joined venture-capital firm General Catalyst as chairman and managing director earlier this year.
"I've been trying to recruit Ken for years," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post in January.
An Airbnb spokesman said Thursday Mr. Chenault isn't leaving the company's board. A representative of Facebook said Mr. Chenault will continue to serve on its board.
Mr. Chenault is one of the nation's most prominent African-American CEOs and led American Express through the aftermath of 9/11 and the financial crisis.
His departure from the iconic card company came after a tumultuous period in which he fought to revive AmEx's fortunes following the loss of a key partnership with Costco Wholesale Corp. He was succeeded as CEO by Stephen Squeri, a three-decade American Express veteran who previously ran its division in charge of corporate cards.
It is highly unusual for directors of S&P 500 companies to serve on so many boards. As of 2016, fewer than 1% of directors held five board seats and fewer than 5% served on four boards.
More than three-fourths of S&P 500 companies curb board members' outside directorships in some fashion, up from 71% in 2010, according to executive-search firm Spencer Stuart. Among those with limits for all directors, 20% set a cap of three seats in 2016 -- up from 16% in 2010.