SouthTrust Bank of Florida is buying 12 western Florida branches from an H.F. Ahmanson & Co. subsidiary.

The Jacksonville unit of Birmingham, Ala.-based SouthTrust Corp. said it signed a definitive agreement Tuesday to acquire the 12 Savings of America branches.

SouthTrust is paying about $45 million, said an official at Ahmanson's Home Savings of America, the holding company for Savings of America.

"Florida is experiencing significant growth, and we're pleased to have this opportunity to augment our presence there," said Wallace D. Malone Jr., SouthTrust Corp.'s chairman and chief executive.

The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed in the second quarter.

Home Savings of America has 39 Florida branches under the Savings of America name.

The branch sale is part of Home Savings' efforts to consolidate its deposit-gathering activities.

The sale involves two branches in Bradenton and one each in Altamonte Springs, Clearwater, Dunedin, Fort Meyers, Naples, Port Charlotte, Port Richey, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Venice. Their deposits total $974 million.

SouthTrust Bank of Florida operates 157 branches in the state, with assets of $5 billion. In Florida, Home Savings has assets totaling $4.4 billion.

SouthTrust Corp. operates 510 offices in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and the Carolinas.

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