WILMINGTON, Del. -- Beneficial Bank PLC, a British bank owned by the U.S. finance group Beneficial Corp., has reached an agreement to acquire Sterling Bank and Trust Ltd.

Sterling, a provider of second-mortgage loans in the United Kingdom, has a portfolio of 13,000 accounts with the equivalent of $188 million outstanding. The deal would increase Beneficial Bank's receivables -- $500 million in 180,000 accounts -- by 38%.

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