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Banco Comercial to start 40-branch Romanian bank in September

Banco Comercial Portugues SA plans to start a 40-branch bank in Romania in September, 10 months after it finished second in the bidding to buy that country's biggest bank.

Banco Comercial Portugues SA, Portugal's second-biggest bank, plans to invest €40 million ($52 million) this year and €200 million to €250 million from 2008 to 2011, when it will have 100 branches, it said on its Web site.It expects to break even in 2011 after starting this year with a loss of €30 million.

The Romanian unit plans to focus on companies and wealthy individuals, with a division focused on consumer finance, Banco Comercial said. Banco Comercial, with its executive offices in Lisbon, is Portugal's biggest bank after state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos SA.

It gets much of its growth from units in Poland and Greece. After Austria's Erste Bank AG won the bidding for Romania's state-owned Banca Comerciala Romana SA last December, offering €3.75 billion, Banco Comercial Chairman Paulo Teixeira Pinto promised to open a Romanian bank, providing no details until today. (Bloomberg)