American Express buys UK online broker

American Express buys UK online broker

Diversified cards and travel group American Express is set to join the UK's online brokerage market through the proposed acquisition of Sharepeople.

Sharepeople has 18,000 subscribers and offers trading in UK and US equities, as well as unit trust products. The site provides after-hours order placing, as well as research and information from vendors such as Barra and Standard & Poor`s.

Under terms of the agreement, American Express is offering 17.5 pence per share for the issued shares and exercisable share options and warrants in Sharepeople at a net cost of approximately £29.9 million ($44 million).

The new company will be known as American Express Sharepeople, and will be a wholly owned subsidiary of American Express.

"This acquisition is a part of our strategy to become a leading provider of financial products and services around the world," says Jim Cracchiolo, president, global financial services, American Express. "We want to be as well known in financial services as we are in cards and travel."

The company launched American Express Brokerage in the US in October 1999. It now claims to be the sixth largest online brokerage in the nation in terms of number of accounts and assets.

"Sharepeople gives us a platform to quickly build our brokerage business in a very attractive market," says Ruediger Adolf, general manager, global brokerage & membership b@nking, American Express.

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