Santander Bank to open Miami branch

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Santander Bank in Boston will open a Miami branch in a bid to capitalize on its international ties and brand recognition there, the Boston company said Thursday.

The $87.7 billion-asset Santander, a unit of Banco Santander in Madrid, will house its first branch outside the Northeast U.S. in the lobby of Banco Santander International’s U.S. headquarters on Brickell Avenue.

Having a physical location in Miami already lowered the barrier to entry in the market, Pierre Habis, Santander’s head of consumer and business banking, told American Banker. He said Santander Bank sees an opportunity to reach international clients of Santander, as well as small businesses and newcomers to the U.S.

“Miami is a gateway for people coming from Brazil or Spain or some of the other countries where we have a large market share,” he said. “The opportunity also is, we are known because of our Latin heritage, and the Santander brand means something in Miami.”

He also framed the expansion into Miami as a natural next step for Santander Bank after dealing with a number of regulatory matters, some of which it inherited from its predecessor Sovereign Bank.

Habis, who joined Santander from MUFG Union Bank in May, said that Santander Bank could eventually add more branches in South Florida. “We haven’t signed a lease on any properties as of today,” he said. “That said, we’re looking at micromarkets and what would logically make sense.”

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