opening branches on a de novo basis, announcing plans Monday to open 20 retail store-like branches in Las Vegas.

Management of the Seattle-based thrift company told analysts in New York that 15 of the branches will open soon and five more will be added by April, according to James Bradshaw of Pacific Crest Securities.

Mr. Bradshaw, who attended the meeting, said the thrift company estimated it costs $83 to sign up a new customer by opening a new branch, versus a cost of $1,000 per-customer by acquiring an institution. Mr. Bradshaw said the new locations will not look like a traditional bank branch. Rather, they will look more like a retail store, with personal loan, mortgage, and financial services areas located around the space.

"They said there would be no teller cages, no lines," Mr. Bradshaw said. "Rather than marble and wood, it will be bright and colorful and be organized in different departments, like Sears."

-- Olaf de Senerpont Domis

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