Banco Rio de la Plata, a unit of Spain's Grupo Santander, said its net income declined in the fourth quarter by 66.6%, to $9.6 million.

It attributed the decrease to $22.5 million in one-time charges for funding costs, restructurings, accounting policies, and year-2000 expenses.

For the full year, net income declined 24.3%, to $101.0 million. The ratio of nonperforming loans to total loans improved to 2.77%, from 2.84% in the third quarter.

The bank, one of Argentina's largest, said deposits grew 4.6% from the previous quarter and 17.9% from a year earlier. The jump included a 33.8% increase in consumer deposits.

Banco Rio added 67 branches in 1998, bringing its total to 236.

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