American Express said Thursday it would lay off 8.5 percent of its workforce in 2013, in an effort to contain operating expenses and adapt to customers moving to online and mobile platforms.
The bank said it would eliminate 5,400 jobs, though some of those will be offset by new positions, for a net cut of 4-6 percent of the 63,500-strong workforce.
The layoffs will span different staff groups and businesses, both in the United States and its international operations, the company said.
The largest reductions will be in AmEx's travel businesses "which operate in an industry that is being fundamentally reinvented as a result of the digital revolution."
It said it took a $400 million restructuring charge in its fourth quarter to December 31 to cover some of the severance costs of the layoffs.
The restructuring is "designed to contain future operating expenses, adapt parts of the business as more customers transact online or through mobile channels, and provide the resources for additional growth initiatives in the US and internationally," AmEx said.
Excluding the restructuring costs and other special items, the bank said its fourth-quarter net earnings came in at $1.2 billion, the same as the year-earlier figure.
After the extra costs, net income was at $637 million, or 56 cents a share, compared with $1.01 a share for the fourth quarter of 2011.
"Maintaining our momentum in this environment will require us to evolve our business, embrace new technologies, become more efficient and generate resources to invest in the many growth opportunities we've identified," said chief executive Kenneth Chenault.
"For the next two years, our aim is to hold annual operating expense increases to less than three percent.
"The overall restructuring program will put us in a better position as we seek to deliver strong results for shareholders and to maintain marketing and promotion investments at about nine percent of revenues."