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AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY

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American Express : Suspends a Director in Foreign-Exchange Pricing Probe

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01/08/2019 | 12:20pm EDT

By AnnaMaria Andriotis

American Express Co. suspended a director in its foreign-exchange department as part of its ongoing investigation into pricing practices in the division, according to people familiar with the matter.

Foreign-exchange employees were informed last month on a company call that the director, Taylor Simonin, was suspended, the people said. Mr. Simonin oversaw account development staff who help foreign-exchange salespeople and assist clients with currency conversions, they said.

Mr. Simonin didn't respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for AmEx said the company's investigation is ongoing.

In July, The Wall Street Journal, citing current and former employees, reported that AmEx's foreign-exchange international payments department routinely increased currency-conversion rates without notifying customers in order to boost revenue and employee commissions. The practice occurred until early 2018 and dated back to at least 2004, current and former employees told the Journal.

"Using our online portal, customers see our offered foreign exchange rates before they place an order," said AmEx's spokeswoman, Marina Norville. "They're given time to make a decision, which also gives them an opportunity to compare our offered all-in rates with the rates offered by other providers."

AmEx's foreign-exchange business, which largely serves small and midsize businesses, accounts for less than half of a percentage point of the company's total revenue.

In September, the Journal reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating AmEx's foreign-exchange pricing practices to determine whether the company misrepresented pricing to clients in order to win their business. The Journal also reported that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also was looking into how AmEx disclosed pricing to customers.

AmEx disclosed in an October regulatory filing that it received investigative subpoenas from the civil and criminal divisions of the Justice Department and inquiries from the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the OCC and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In the filing, AmEx said it doesn't believe "this matter will have a material adverse impact on [its] operations or results."

Write to AnnaMaria Andriotis at annamaria.andriotis@wsj.com

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Financials ($)
Sales 2019 43 668 M
EBIT 2019 12 744 M
Net income 2019 6 821 M
Debt 2019 -
Yield 2019 1,47%
P/E ratio 2019 13,44
P/E ratio 2020 12,17
Capi. / Sales 2019 2,10x
Capi. / Sales 2020 1,96x
Capitalization 91 809 M
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Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 29
Average target price 116 $
Spread / Average Target 5,7%
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Managers
NameTitle
Stephen J. Squeri Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Jeffrey C. Campbell Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
Marc D. Gordon Chief Information Officer & Executive VP
Charlene Barshefsky Independent Director
Peter F. Chernin Independent Director
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