VIENNA -- American Express Bank, a unit of American Express Co., will use its Vienna office as a launching pad to develop business in Eastern Europe, executives said.

William Blomquist, responsible for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, estimated business volume in the region last year at $500 million to $1 billion.

"We are optimistic with respect to the politics of the area, and we plan a compound growth rate in excess of 30%," Mr. Blomquist told a news conference.

Amex Bank, with $13.7 billion in assets, had net profits of $104 million last year, up from $45 million. It employs 4,300 workers in 37 countries.

Amex Bank has decided to run relations with correspondence banks in 27 countries in the former East Bloc from Vienna. Links to Greece and Turkey are also to be centered here.

Key cross-Europe functions. such as computing, and accounting and control, have been centralized, enabling Amex Bank to intensify customer service.

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