First USA Inc. has agreed to drop a "walk-away" clause from its merger agreement with Banc One Corp.

The clause said First USA could terminate the deal with the Columbus, Ohio-based bank if 10 days before the consummation of the merger Banc One's stock fell below $38.60.

The merger is expected to close in late May or early June.

On April 11, Banc One's stock had fallen by 18% from a 52-week high of $49.25 to $39.50.

The walk-away clause was dropped last week when First USA announced it would restate earnings to be in accordance with Federal Accounting Standards 125 and in compliance with Banc One's accounting method. Bloomberg Business News first reported it April 24.

The change in accounting method reduced First USA's earnings by $53 million, or 38 cents a share.

"Banc One and First USA very much intend to carry out this merger," said David Webster, a spokesman for Dallas-based First USA

Midday Wednesday, Banc One's stock traded at $42.37. First USA's traded at $48.37.

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