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November 29, 2005

Ameriprise's San Diego Closing Surprises Street

By Michael Scotti

In a move that surprised the Street, the money management firm formerly known as American Express Financial Advisors closed its San Diego office last month.

The move was a sharp reversal for the firm-currently known as Ameriprise Financial, which was renamed after an October 3rd spin-off from parent American Express. Equity trading pros across the Street expressed disbelief at the move. That's because the office that managed about $20 billion in equities only had been established in 2002, and it appeared that it was looking to expand its equity-trading desk.

About a year ago, it hired the well-respected Jamie Atwell from Nicholas-Applegate Capital Management to run the desk. As recently as last spring, the firm was still in an expansion mode. That's when Atwell hired veteran trader John Cloud away from AIM Investments in Houston.

Atwell and Cloud both declined comment and referred calls to the company.

Neither Atwell nor Cloud have been offered jobs, according to a company spokesman. Equity trader Michael Horton will be relocated back to the company's main trading desk in Minneapolis. Ben Frye, one of the four traders, was not offered a position.