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Charter One and Kroger Partner to Open 22 Banking Centers in Greater Indianapolis

CLEVELAND -- Charter One Financial, Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Kroger to open 22 new banking centers in greater Indianapolis.

The new banking centers in Kroger reinforce Charter One's commitment to building a dominant retail presence in Indiana. Charter One entered Indiana in August 2003 with the opening of several banking centers.

"Simply put, this deal allows us to better deliver on our promise of serving our customers where and when they want to be served," said Mark Grossi, Charter One's e.v.p. and chief retail officer. "Through our in-store network, Charter One customers can do their banking seven days a week at convenient supermarket locations, taking care of two retail shopping needs at once."

"Charter One Bank is a natural addition to Kroger's one-stop-shopping strategy, and we look forward to growing this partnership into more locations," said Lisa Holsclaw, president, Kroger Central Marketing Area. "This is a great way to reach out to busy people who like the convenience of one-stop shopping and the unmatched value that Kroger and Charter One are known to provide."

By the end of the second quarter of 2004, Charter One will be operating 48 banking centers in the area, including eight traditional freestanding locations, making it the fifth-largest bank in the Indianapolis market. At least five of Charter One's eight traditional banking centers will include Starbucks coffee houses integrated into their floor plans.

"We wanted to enter the market in a space where most consumers go -- their local grocer. And now we are in Indianapolis' top two supermarket chains, making Indianapolis the first metro location where one bank operates more than 50 percent of the in-store network," Grossi said. "The combination of Starbucks, our traditional banking centers, and our in-store network makes Indianapolis a powerful retail market for us."

Grossi said that as part of the agreement Kroger and Charter One plan to jointly launch several new innovative products that will benefit Kroger customers who bank with Charter One.

Charter One's in-store banking centers are open seven days a week and provide the full range of Charter One deposit products, such as totally free checking, totally free business checking, free online banking with bill payment capabilities, 24-hour ATM access, home mortgages, lines of credit, and business lending services.

Charter One has $43 billion in total assets, making it one of the 25 largest bank holding companies in the country. The bank has more than 566 banking center locations in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The company's diverse product set includes consumer banking, indirect auto finance, commercial leasing, business lending, commercial real estate lending, mortgage banking, and retail investment products.
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