BB&T Corp. of North Carolina said Wednesday that it would continue its expansion into the Washington area by buying Maryland Federal Bancorp for $265.3 million. The deal would be accounted for as a purchase - unusual these days - and is expected to close in the third quarter.

John A. Allison 4th, chairman and chief executive officer of Winston- Salem-based BB&T, said it would "strengthen our position in one of the fastest-growing markets in the nation."

In recent years BB&T has grown to $30 billion of assets through acquisitions in North Carolina and Virginia.

Maryland Federal, a $1.2 billion-asset thrift based in Hyattsville, ranks 11th in deposit share in its state.

The deal is BB&T's second in the Washington area. In December the bank agreed to acquire $535 million-asset Franklin Bancorp. in Washington for $165 million.

Analysts say the latest deal is consistent with most of BB&T's recent ones in size and direction.

"They have long talked about enhancing their franchise in Virginia, Maryland, even West Virginia," said Edward Najarian, bank analyst at Wheat First Union. "This deal is right up that alley."

Operating in the shadow of NationsBank Corp., First Union Corp., and Wachovia Corp., BB&T has held the leading deposit share in North Carolina since buying United Carolina Bancshares two years ago.

BB&T is the offspring of a merger of equals with Southern National Corp. That deal is considered on Wall Street to be one of the few successful examples of such a merger.

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