Five Bank of Boston Corp. insiders and a former chairman exercised options and sold close to $2 million worth of common stock in August just before the company announced two acquisitions.

The insiders, including president Charles Gifford and chief financial officer Peter Manning, sold 90,800 shares through the exercise of options between Aug. and Aug. 25 at an average price of $20,375, according to Vickers Weekly Insider Report.

Sale prices ranged from $20.75 to $24.125 a share, close to the stock's 52-week high of $25.50, which it set in early July. The executives received the options at prices ranging from $8 to $8.50 a share.

Biggest Sellers

Mr. Manning, with the sale of 30,000 shares through the exercise of options, and Mr. Gifford, with the sale of 27,225 shares, were the biggest sellers.

Other sellers included Eliot Oestner, executive counsel, and Gary Spiess, general counsel. Before retiring on Aug. 10, Peter Read, executive vice president in the New England banking group, also sold 18,750 shares by exercising options.

Former chairman and director William Brown sold 10,000 shares through the exercise of options.

Bank of Boston agreed on Aug. 31 to buy Society for Savings Bancorp, Hartford, Conn., in a stock swap valued at about $185.6 million. On Sept. 9, the company said it agreed to buy Dedham, Mass.-based Multibank Financial Corp. for about $201.5 million.

Bank of Boston shares have declined since the company announced the two acquisitions. And the stock is down about 18% since Aug. 3, when the first insider transaction occurred.

A Bank of Boston spokeswoman acknowledged that the timing of the transactions appears unusual but said: "Nothing had reached fruition when these individuals exercised their options."

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