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American Express Buys Competitor

July 16, 2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ American Express Co., the world’s largest corporate travel management company, said Tuesday it has agreed to purchase most of the assets of one of its smaller competitors, Philadelphia-based Rosenbluth International.

The companies did not disclose terms of the transaction, which could be completed within a few months, pending regulatory approval.

American Express has agreed to purchase all of Rosenbluth’s shares as part of the deal, but Rosenbluth will maintain control of UpStream, an outsourced call center that provides support for the company’s clients.

Charles Petruccelli, president of global services at American Express, said the company has been seeking to expand.

``This is very much in line with the way we have been executing our strategy,″ Petruccelli said Tuesday. ``We just came together ... with the same vision and the same interests.″

Rosenbluth, a privately held company founded in 1892, has 3,600 employees and operates in 15 countries, with major offices in Sydney, Australia, London and Philadelphia. It handled more than $3 billion in travel last year.

Alex Wasilov, Rosenbluth’s president, said the company had been interested for several years in consolidating, noting that the top five companies in the industry make up less than 25 percent of the market share.

American Express shares fell 26 cents to close at $45.14 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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