Santander to invest US$180mn this year in new branches, ATMs, more staff

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Santander Chile (NYSE: SAN) will invest US$180mn this year in expanding its branch and ATM networks, as well as to hire more staff and improve customer service, CEO Claudio Melandri told press.

The bank plans to open 30 branches, install 220 new ATMs and upgrade 120 of its existing ATMs, he said.

For 2011-14, Santander Chile will invest US$380mn, Melandri said.

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The bank aims to boost its lending this year by 18%, or US$6.1bn, chairman Mauricio Larraín said. Santander Chile forecasts that the banking sector will see loans grow an average of 15% in 2011.

On Tuesday, the bank's shareholders also approved distributing a 1.519-peso per share dividend, equal to 60% of 2010 net income attributable to shareholders, which represents a 10.6% increase compared with the amount paid last year.

The remaining 40% will go to the bank's retained earnings account.

The Santander unit upped 2010 earnings by 5.4% to 683mn euros (US$1bn), excluding FX gains, or 6% of parent company Santander's (NYSE: STD) global net attributable profit.

The Spanish bank has a 75% stake in Santander Chile, the country's largest bank.