Monday, 30 January 2012
CASE 385 - American express
American Express Company or AmEx, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best known for its credit card, charge card, and traveler's cheque businesses. Amex cards account for approximately 24% of the total dollar volume of credit card transactions in the US, the highest of any card issuer.
BusinessWeek and Interbrand ranked American Express as the 22nd most valuable brand in the world, estimating the brand to be worth US$14.97 billion. Fortune listed Amex as one of the top 20 Most Admired Companies in the World. The company's mascot, adopted in 1958, is a Roman gladiator or centurion whose image appears on the company's travelers' cheques and charge cards. On June 22, 2010, it was revealed that American Express would sponsor English football team Brighton & Hove Albion's new stadium at Falmer. Commercially, the stadium is known as The American Express Community Stadium or the Amex stadium.
American Express was started as an express mail business in Albany, New York, in 1850. It was founded as a joint stock corporation by the merger of the express companies owned by Henry Wells (Wells & Company), William Fargo (Livingston, Fargo & Company), and John Warren Butterfield (Wells, Butterfield & Company, the successor earlier in 1850 of Butterfield, Wasson & Company). The same founders also started Wells Fargo & Co. in 1852 when Butterfield and other directors objected to the proposal that American Express extend its operations to California. American Express first established its headquarters in a building at the intersection of Jay Street and Hudson Street in what was later called the TriBeCa section of Manhattan. For years it enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the movement of express shipments (goods, securities, currency, etc.) throughout New York State. In 1874, American Express moved its headquarters to 65 Broadway in what was becoming the Financial District of Manhattan, a location it was to retain through two buildings. American Express extended its reach nationwide by arranging affiliations with other express companies (including Wells Fargo – the replacement for the two former companies that merged to form American Express), railroads, and steamship companies.
During the 1980s, American Express embarked on an effort to become a financial services supercompany and made a number of acquisitions to create an investment banking arm. In mid-1981 it purchased Sanford I. Weill's Shearson Loeb Rhoades, the second largest securities firm in the United States to form Shearson/American Express.
After the purchase of Shearson, Weill was given the position of president of American Express in 1983. Weill grew increasingly unhappy with responsibilities within American Express and his conflicts with American Express' CEO James D. Robinson III. Weill soon realized that he was not positioned to be named CEO and left in August 1985. In 1984, American Express acquired the investment banking and trading firm, Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, and added it to the Shearson family, creating Shearson Lehman/American Express. It was Lehman's CEO and former trader Lewis Glucksman who would next lead Shearson Lehman/American Express.
In 1984 Shearson/American Express purchased the 90-year old Investors Diversified Services, bringing with it a fleet of financial advisors and investment products. In 1988, Shearson Lehman acquired E.F. Hutton & Co., a brokerage firm founded in 1904, this was merged with the investment banking business and the investment banking arm was rename Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc.
However, when Harvey Golub became CEO of American Express in 1993, American express decided to get out of the investment banking business and negotiated the sale of Shearson's retail brokerage and asset management business to Primerica. The Shearson business was merged with Primerica's Smith Barney to create Smith Barney Shearson. Ultimately, the Shearson name was dropped in 1994.
In 1994, American Express spun off of the remaining investment banking and institutional businesses as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc which after almost fifteen years of independence would file for bankruptcy protection in 2008 as part of the Late-2000s financial crisis.