Gap Inc chief financial officer Byron Pollitt is leaving to become finance chief for Visa Inc, the companies said, marking the second high-level executive exit this year for the clothing retailer as it wrestles with a multiyear sales slump.

Pollitt, 56, will help prepare Visa Inc., the world's largest credit card network, for its public offering, which is expected by early next year.

He leaves behind a clothing retailer whose sales fell last quarter and have been weak since 2004. The company's shares fell 1 percent in after-hours trading.

But many cost-cutting moves and efficiency improvements are already in motion at Gap and will continue even with Pollitt's departure. That helped lift Gap's profits by 19 percent in its fiscal second quarter.

Pollitt's last day at Gap will be September 14. He plans to join Visa in mid-September.

Sabrina Simmons, 44, senior vice president of corporate finance, is being promoted to the newly created position of executive vice president of finance and will serve as acting CFO, Gap said. Simmons will report to Glenn Murphy.

Gap spokeswoman Kris Marubio said there was no formal search going on right now for a permanent finance chief.

Pollitt joined Gap in 2003 after having worked at Walt Disney Co. with Paul Pressler, who was chief executive at Gap from 2002 until his ouster in January 2007.

Gap named former Canadian drug store chain chief Glenn Murphy as its CEO in July.

Losing Byron Pollitt is a notable loss, Mark Montagna, C.L. King analyst, wrote in an e-mail to Reuters.

San Francisco-based Gap, which also owns the Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, has seen flat or declining same-store sales in every month but three since June 2004.

Gap CEO Murphy, who has no significant fashion industry experience, is trying to turn Gap around by laying off workers to cut costs, reducing inventory at stores and scaling back corporate office space.

Gap shares were down 1.1 percent at $18.47 in after-hours trade after closing up 3.3 percent at $18.67 on the New York Stock Exchange.

San Francisco-based Visa said on Wednesday that it named a new board of directors for Visa Inc., which is to become the parent company for Visa Canada, Visa USA, and Visa International.

Board members include Thomas Campbell, a professor at the business school of the University of California, Berkeley; and Mary Cranston, a senior partner at law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLC.

Visa last month named Hans Morris as its president.

(Additional reporting by Peter Henderson and Nichola Groom in Los Angeles, and Mark McSherry and Aarthi Sivaraman in New York)