- Bloomberg News

LONDON - American Express Co. is considering buying money managers to expand its European fund business.

The company is in discussions about forming a marketing link with a German bank and also looking at making acquisitions, said Alex Ingham Clark, head of north European intermediary fund sales.

"All options are being considered for expansion," Mr. Clark said. "We're continually appraising everyone."

New York-based American Express oversees about $100 billion for mutual fund investors in the United States and just $2 billion for Europeans. That's after a fourfold increase over the past 12 months, led by inflows from investors in the United Kingdom and Italy.

American Express has made several moves to bulk up its fund business in the U.S. It recently signed up with Wells Fargo & Co. to sell each others' mutual funds.

The financial services firm also recently introduced two new funds. One, AXP Innovations Fund, will invest in 50 to 90 media, technology, and telecommunications companies. The other will invest in invest in high-yield loans. American Express also plans to add to the 22 funds it offers in Europe.

An acquisition could be vital if American Express is to compete better. A record 29% of fund managers with business in Europe were involved in mergers and acquisitions last year, according to the consultant William M. Mercer Ltd. The trend continues in 2000.

HypoVereinsbank chief executive Albrecht Schmidt said Wednesday that his bank is looking for acquisitions outside Germany. The bank plans to raise about $12.5 billion in a stock sale, and the proceeds may be used to finance purchases.

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