NEW YORK - American Express Co President Alfred Kelly will leave the company early next year to seek an opportunity as a chief executive elsewhere, the credit card issuer said on Monday.

Kelly, 51, joined American Express in 1987 and in recent years has been responsible for the company's consumer and small business card franchise. He has been president for the last two years.

In the context of discussions we have had about longer-term plans for the organization, Al made clear to me that he wanted the opportunity to run a company as chief executive, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault said in a statement.

Given my own plans for the coming years, we both agreed that was not likely to happen at American Express in the short term.

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), the largest U.S. bank, is currently looking for a chief executive, after CEO Kenneth Lewis announced he will leave the company by year-end.

Analysts said it was unlikely Kelly would get the CEO post at Bank of America. Kelly has not been previously mentioned as a candidate to lead the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank.

American Express, the largest credit card company by revenue, also announced the creation of a new global services organization -- including customer service, technologies, operations, business processing and information management -- and a new enterprise growth organization to increase fee revenue and drive growth into new payment business.

Steve Squeri, who has been in charge of technologies and corporate development, will lead the global services group. American Express said it was recruiting a manager from outside to lead the enterprise growth division.

The company also combined its global consumer, small business and network businesses under Vice Chairman Ed Gilligan.

American Express was the fastest growing credit card company between 2003 and 2007 as it relaxed lending standards. But it paid a heavy price when the bubble burst and bad loans rose to record highs.

Still, the company is the only large credit card issuer that remained profitable during the financial crisis. Earlier this year, it repaid a $3.4 billion government bailout it received during the peak of the financial meltdown.

However, the lender, which makes money every time a client swipes its card, faces headwinds as frugal consumers spend less and new regulations limit credit card fees and interest rates.

American Express shares rose 66 cents to $33.15 in late-morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock was up before the news of Kelly's resignation. (Reporting by Juan Lagorio, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace)