- Dow Jones Newswires

PHILADELPHIA - Sovereign Bancorp said Friday it has retained 98% of the customers it acquired in its transaction with FleetBoston Financial, a higher percentage than its previous estimates.

Sovereign also said its second-quarter results will be in line with expectations. A First Call/Thomson Financial survey of nine analysts produced a mean earnings estimate of 28 cents a share for the quarter.

Business lending volumes have also exceeded initial estimates, Sovereign said, with total commercial loans outstanding for the New England division increasing since the acquisition of the Fleet portfolios on March 24 and June 16.

Business lending volumes exceeded initial estimates, with total commercial loans outstanding for the New England division increasing since the acquisition of the portfolios in March and June. "We attribute our early success as a business bank in New England to the familiarity that our staff has with the markets and customers they serve. Sovereign Bank New England may be new to the region, but our team members are not, and this has allowed us to quickly establish ourselves as a dominant provider of financial solutions to New England businesses and consumers," Jay S. Sidhu, Sovereign's president and chief executive said.

Consumer volumes have also grown at a rapid rate, up approximately 9% from the levels originally acquired.

The company agreed this year to buy deposits and loans from FleetBoston Financial in phases. The final phase is set for July 21.

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