WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department on Thursday said FleetBoston Financial Corp. and Summit Bancorp have agreed to sell five branches in the Atlantic City, N.J., area to resolve antitrust concerns about the banking companies' proposed merger.

The agency said that, without the divestitures, the deal would have reduced competition for banking services to small businesses there. Under the agreement, FleetBoston will sell five Summit Bank branches with about $232 million of deposits, and commercial loans associated with those branches. Also, FleetBoston has agreed to sell branches closed in the Atlantic City area to any commercial bank as long as the bank's offer is at least equivalent to any nonbank bids.

The Federal Reserve Board still has to approve FleetBoston's $7 billion purchase of Princeton, N.J.-based Summit, which was announced in October. FleetBoston has $179.1 billion of assets and $98.9 billion of deposits, and operates in eight states. Summit has $39.5 billion of assets and $26.6 billion of deposits and operates in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

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