The Federal Reserve Board gave NationsBank Corp. permission Wednesday to acquire Montgomery Securities and Pyramid Co.

The Fed said the $1.2 billion purchase, which would propel the Charlotte, N.C., banking company into the equities underwriting business, will not harm competition. The regulator also rejected as baseless protests by several activist groups, which claimed NationsBank management could not be trusted to supervise an equities underwriting business.

"We are pleased with the Fed's approval," a NationsBank spokeswoman said. "We look forward to providing our customers with a full array of financial products."

NationsBank expects to close the deal by Oct. 1. The New York Stock Exchange still must give its approval.

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