Monday, November 10, 2008

American Express to be bank holding company

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve on Monday granted a request by the credit card giant, American Express, to become a bank holding company, giving it access to low-cost financing from the Fed.

The Fed said it had approved the application for American Express and a related company, American Express Travel Related Services, to become bank holding companies.

The approval represented the latest reshaping of the financial services industry, which is undergoing its worst credit crisis in decades.

In announcing the action, the Fed cited "emergency conditions."

The Fed's approval for American Express was similar to the decision it made in September to transform the country's two biggest investment banks, Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley, into bank holding companies.

That move bolstered the two institutions after the collapse of another investment bank Lehman Brothers, which became the largest bankruptcy filing in history. Goldman and Morgan Stanley gained the ability to borrow federal money and build a stable base of deposits in hopes of reassuring investors and other banks.

AmEx last month reported that its profit fell 24 percent in the third quarter as cardholders restrained their spending and had more trouble paying off deb

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