American Express Co. has agreed to purchase Rockford Industries Inc., which finances and leases equipment for small businesses, for $61 million.

Rockford, a 14-year-old company in Santa Ana, Calif., works through a network of more than 1,000 vendors of health-care, telecommunications, technology, and general office equipment. It reported net income of $2.1 million on revenues of $19.1 million in 1997. For the first nine months of this year its income was $1.7 million on revenues of $15.8 million.

Steven W. Alesio, president of American Express Small Business Services, said Rockford would complement American Express' small-business programs.

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