American Express Financial Corp. is buying Threadneedle Asset Management Holdings from Zurich Financial Services Group for $570 million in cash. The acquisition of the U.K. firm will give American Express an entrée to the privatization of Europe’s pension industry, and also allow the firm to cross-sell its travel and credit card services. The deal is expected to close at the end of the year.

"The decision to acquire Threadneedle is part of our overall strategy to expand our financial services business globally," said Jim Cracchiolo, American Express’ group president, global financial services and chairmand and CEO of American Express Financial Advisors. Threadneedle has $75 billion in assets under management.

As only $4.5 billion of American Express’ total $230 billion in assets are European-based, this deal greatly boosts the company’s presence in Europe, Reuters reports.

"We are investing in this downturn in order to grow the asset management businesses, whereas a number of our competitors are either shedding people, shedding operations, consolidating or downsizing," Ted Truscott, chief investment officer of American Express Financial Advisors, told Reuters. "It’s a great time to buy an asset manager. Valuations have come down a bit from the bubble years."

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