Six months after changing its name from Sovereign Bank to Santander Bank, after its Spanish parent, the Boston-based bank is opening two new branches in Philadelphia, one near Rittenhouse Square and the other in University City, bank officials will announce Wednesday.

The branches are to open this summer and are a sign that Santander is expanding its branch-banking presence in the region after trimming 10 branches during the financial crisis.

"There's no substitute for small-business owners and for consumers being able to walk into a branch and meet face-to-face with an experienced, professional banker," said Jonathan Roberts, Santander's regional president for Southeastern Pennsylvania, Central New Jersey, and Delaware.

Santander's addition of branches in two of the most vibrant areas of Philadelphia follows the decision by Citibank to close its few remaining branches in the Philadelphia region, including five in Center City.

Santander has hired at least 20 former Citibank employees, Roberts said.

The Philadelphia region had a net loss of 51 bank branches last year, the most of any metropolitan area, according to SNL Financial, a financial information firm in Charlottesville, Va.

With $4.1 billion in deposits at 71 branches in the eight-county Philadelphia area, Santander ranked sixth in the region last June, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

hbrubaker@phillynews.com

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