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Santander puts its name on Sovereign Bank branches four years after acquisition

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In 2009, Santander acquired Sovereign Bank, which today changes its name to that of the $1.6 trillion-asset Spain-based global banking giant.

The Sovereign acquisition gave Santander a nine-state foothold in the Northeast, and has "positioned the bank to grow in the U.S." said Peter Dawson, market manager for corporate banking in New Jersey, New York and Long Island.

"At the present time, our focus is the Northeast, and perhaps in the future, there might be some opportunities to do something beyond that," Dawson said, though could not comment on any specific future expansion.

In July, Santander announced it would invest more than $200 million in its U.S. operations over the next three years. It's now beginning a significant brand-building ad campaign to establish itself here, Dawson said.

"You will see print, television, radio, billboards, and all of that will help bring brand recognition," Dawson said. "It was always our plan to bring the Santander name to the U.S. bank at the right time. So for the last few years, we have focused on strengthening our financial condition, improving our technology, investing in our team members, bolstering our products and services. Now, we believe it's the right time to make great use of our global brand."

For the bank's business customers, Santander "provides access to the products and service and resources of one of the world's largest and most well-regarded banks," Dawson said. "Those that are involved in foreign trade or overseas expansion have access to one of the strongest networks in the world."

Dawson said the name change won't inconvenience the bank's retail or business customers, who will continue to use their existing accounts and bank cards.

Worldwide, Santander is a $1.6 trillion asset bank with 102 million customers, 190,000 employees and about 14,700 branches, Dawson said. Santander's U.S. operation has $80 billion in assets.

In New Jersey, Santander has about 150 branches, 1, 249 employees and 371 ATMs, Dawson said. In New Jersey, Santander serves 285,000 retail households, 37,282 small-business clients and 1,871 corporate clients. "New Jersey is a significant market for us," he said.

The New Jersey commercial banking climate is good, and the market is extremely competitive, Dawson said.

"Our business banking has been very successful in New Jersey," he said. "The economy is still stabilizing and growing slightly, and the New Jersey market is probably outperforming a bit, in terms of the appetite for credit."

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