BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Compass Bancshares signed a definitive agreement to acquire American Bancorporation of the South, Merrill Island, Fla.

Compass, based here, will pay $15.4 million in cash, or 1.2 times book value, to acquire the holding company for American Bank of the South, which has $190 million of assets and 16 offices in Brevard County on Florida's eastern coast.

Compass, which has $7.8 billion of assets, entered Florida in 1991 with the purchase of a Pensacola bank.

It subsequently expanded across the Panhandle to Jacksonville.

Upon the completion of the American Bancorp. acquisition and two other pending deals, it will have $9 billion of assets and 204 offices in three states.

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