• Chile's BBVA Banco Bhif has ATM expansion plans for '03

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chilean bank BBVA Banco Bhif (NYSE:BB) plans to increase its ATM fleet 40 percent to 50 percent in 2003, to between 145 and 155 units, according to a report in BNamericas.

The aggressive expansion of its ATM network is part of BBVA Bhif's push to become a technology and self-service leader in the local financial system, according to the report.

The bank also announced it would add 10 to 15 new branches this year to improve its distribution network. Today, BBVA Bhif has approximately 90 branches.

The bank plans to invest $20 million in technology this year, according to BNamericas.

BBVA Bhif's parent, BBVA, runs one of Latin America's largest financial groups and is Spain's second largest bank.

Technology is one of the areas where BBVA Bhif can take advantage of being part of an international banking group such as BBVA (NYSE: BBV), which operates more advanced ATMs in Spain than those currently in use in Chile, a bank source told BNamericas.

BBVA Bhif is a mid-sized bank in the Chilean financial system, where about 50 percent of the loan market is held by rivals Banco Santander Chile (NYSE: SAN) and Banco de Chile (NYSE: BCH).

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