Sovereign Bancorp said it has agreed with Wal-Mart to open six in-store branches at Wal-Mart supercenters starting in September.

"Wal-Mart's retail strategy and customer service philosophy are a perfect match for Sovereign," said Jay S. Sidhu, president and chief executive of Wyomissing-based Sovereign.

Sovereign said it plans to open its first in-store branch at the Wal- Mart in Shamokin, Pa. Another is slated for a Chambersburg, Pa. store. A bank spokeswoman said four other units are expected to be opened within 18 months.

In an earlier announcement, the $15 billion-asset Sovereign said it has begun installing 60 automated teller machines at Cumberland Farms convenience store units throughout New Jersey, northern Delaware, and southeastern Pennsylvania.

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