Spain's CaixaBank has opened an office in Santiago, Chile, making it the financial institution's first branch in Latin America and marking the start of its expansion in the region, bank executives told Efe Sunday.

CaixaBank's office in Chile plans to offer financial services to Spanish firms operating in the South American country and to Chilean companies looking to invest in Spain, the executives said.

Colombia could be the next South American destination for CaixaBank, which is seeking to expand in the region and pump up its presence in the corporate banking market, the executives said.

CaixaBank, which is led by Isidre Faine, filed a request to open a branch in the Chilean capital in July and received final authorization from banking regulators in the South American country last month.

The financial institution selected Chile as the location for its first branch in the region because of that country's strong economic growth in recent years and the growing interest on the part of Spanish companies in investing there.

An estimated 1,500 Spanish companies operate in Chile, bank executives said.

CaixaBank has branches in Warsaw, Poland, Bucharest, Romania, and Casablanca, Morocco, becoming the first Spanish financial institution to have full-service branches in all those locations. EFE