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From Mutual Funds to Movie World, Investment Booms

American Invaders

Here are three examples of America's drive for European market share:

Fidelity Investments. During the past year, Fidelity doubled the number of European countries, 14, where it operates. And it expects even more explosive growth.

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"In the US, the major driver of mutual-fund investment came from the private pension business," says Phil de Christo, managing director for continental Europe. "The same pension products are going to come to the Europe shortly."

Fidelity is creating locally based financial products, such as German-mark-denominated mutual funds for German customers, but Mr. de Christo sees a hard task convincing European investors that stocks represent the best investments. "In France, the preference still is for fixed income and in Spain for money markets," he says. "I have to educate our investors that the best long-term investment is in equities."

Manpower. The "temp" business is booming for this Milwaukee-based supplier of temporary workers. High unemployment has lowered work restrictions, and companies need temporary secretaries, computer technicians, even architects.

For many young Europeans, temp jobs represent the only entry into the labor market. Gunter Van Cawenbergh signed up with Manpower after he graduated in June 1995 from one of Belgium's most prestigious business schools. Within a week, he was working at an insurance company; six months later, at a bank. "I've had all these interesting different experiences while many of my friends are still unemployed," he says.

Manpower will add 125 agencies this year in Europe, plus another 25 next year, bringing the total in Europe to 250.

Warner Bros. The entertainment giant opened a $230 million amusement park - Warner Bros. Movie World, - last year in Bottrop, in Germany's industrial Ruhr Valley. After Disney's difficulties in Paris, why pick a rust belt? "People, people, and people," answers park director Joseph Meck. "You have 23 million people in the immediate area - good, hard-working people."

But Warner was not universally greeted with applause. The director of a local employment agency complains of "junk" jobs, low-paid, part-time positions where they want people to smile all the time.

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Warner is striving for cultural sensitivity. The park includes a German-film museum and attractions based on a German TV show and movie.

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