by Michael J. Shapiro | January 11, 2013

American Express will eliminate approximately 5,400 jobs, mostly in its travel business, the company announced yesterday in disclosing preliminary fourth-quarter earnings. The cuts come as part of a restructuring plan and will take place across seniority levels, businesses and staff groups, but will be most strongly felt in the travel divisions. The reductions will be spread proportionally among the U.S. and international markets. The layoffs will affect approximately 8.5 percent of the company's work force; the company says, however, that it will add jobs over the coming year so that the total reduction in work force is closer to 4 to 6 percent by the end of 2013. American Express outlined several goals of its restructuring plan, among them to reengineer the business model of Global Business Travel to reduce costs while investing in new technology that reflects rising customer demand for online channels and automated servicing tools. Other goals include the reduction of staff groups and the consolidation of similar functions across business groups to increase efficiency. "Against the backdrop of an uneven economic recovery, these restructuring initiatives are designed to make American Express more nimble, more efficient and more effective in using our resources to drive growth," said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and CEO. "For the next two years, our aim is to hold annual operating expense increases to less than 3 percent." American Express will release complete fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results on Jan. 17.