AmEx sees up to $500 million more in legal losses

NEW YORK Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:39am EST

An American Express sign is seen on a restaurant door in New York, July 22, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

An American Express sign is seen on a restaurant door in New York, July 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American Express Co (AXP.N) said it could face up to an additional $500 million in losses from lawsuits and governmental examinations, on top of what it has already reserved for them.

The credit card lender and processing network did not say what its total liability from legal proceedings is. But it now estimates a range of possible loss of "zero to $500 million in excess of the accrued liability (if any) related to those matters," according to its annual report filed with regulators on Monday.

Since October, American Express has been fighting a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit over its rules for merchants that take its cards. The company is also defending itself against several merchants' lawsuits, including some related to those rules.

A hearing has been scheduled for March 2 to "to discuss scheduling and coordination" of the Justice Department and merchants' lawsuits, American Express said in the Monday filing.

Since October, the company had participated in mediation efforts to resolve some merchants' lawsuits, but those mediations "have reached impasses," according to the filing.

(Reporting by Maria Aspan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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