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BMO Financial Group's Harris Opens 200th Branch: On Target with Retail Network Expansion

Harris Bank, BMO's U.S. retail banking arm, today announced the opening of its 200th branch, located in West Lincoln Park – one of the fastest growing communities within the Chicagoland metropolitan market.  The new branch represents the attainment of a key Harris objective to grow to 200 branches throughout Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana in 2006.  The Bank is now focused on its next goal – to add 20 more Chicagoland branches by 2007. 

In April, Chuck Tonge, Vice Chairman, Harris Bankcorp Inc., told investors and analysts attending the National Bank Financial Canadian Banking Conference in Montreal that “by 2007 we hope to increase the number of Chicagoland branches to more than 220, and within five years we want to expand our distribution footprint across the Midwest to 350-400 branches.”

Harris has opened more than 30 new locations since 2001, in addition to making a series of acquisitions. The bank now has the second largest branch distribution in Chicago.   “We believe we are well positioned to compete in this market given our customer-focused approach, our strong brand and our growing network,” said Frank Techar, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harris Bankcorp Inc.  

The branches that Harris has opened within the last two to three years generally have a higher percentage of deposit market share than new branches opened by its competitors.  “We have the distinct advantage of bringing to market the strength and processing efficiencies of a national enterprise – BMO Financial Group – while maintaining a superior service culture that has been the hallmark of Harris' community roots and focus,” said Techar.

“We've reached a significant milestone with this opening but we're not done yet,” Techar stated. “We are confident that our shareholders and the investor community will value our approach as we demonstrate the strength of our acquisition strategy by moving on opportunities that are right for us."

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $306 billion as at January 31, 2006, and more than 33,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions. BMO Financial Group serves clients across Canada through its Canadian retail arm, BMO Bank of Montreal, and through BMO Nesbitt Burns, one of Canada's leading full-service investment firms. In the United States, BMO serves clients through Chicago-based Harris, an integrated financial services organization that provides more than one million personal, business, corporate and institutional clients with banking, lending, investing, financial planning, trust administration, portfolio management, family office and wealth transfer services.

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BMO Financial Group's Harris Bank celebrated the opening of its 200th branch, located in the West Lincoln Park neighbourhood of Chicago. Harris plans to increase the number of Chicagoland branches to more than 220 by 2007 and expand its distribution footprint across the U.S. Midwest to 350-400 branches within five years.