H.F. Ahmanson & Co., the nation's second-largest thrift company, is pulling out of branch banking in Florida, citing intense competition in a rapidly consolidating market.

The California-based company, parent of Home Savings of America, has agreed to sell its 27 Florida branches, along with $3.4 billion of deposits, to SouthTrust Corp. for $300 million. The deal, announced Thursday, followed a similar transaction between the two companies earlier this year.

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