U.S. mutual fund companies and banks interested in crossing the Atlantic Ocean to expand their business might first want to listen to a cautionary tale from Barry Bateman, president of Fidelity International.

"It didn't work," he said of the company's first foray in France. Fidelity Investment's European sister company shuttered its Paris office in 1989 after two years of lagging sales and poor reception. The firm also scaled back operations in other European cities at the time.

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