WASHINGTON - Southern National Corp., Lumberton, N.C., can acquire BB&T Financial Corp. of Wilson, N.C., provided it divests itself of several branches, the Fed announced last week.

The Fed said Southern National, which controls $4 billion in deposits, would dominate the market in several North Carolina counties if it doesn't sell some of its soon-to-be-acquired branches.

"Based upon the proposed divestitures, the Justice Department has indicated that this proposal is not likely to have a significantly adverse effect on competition in these banking markets," the Fed said in its Jan. 19 order approving the deal.

The companies already have begun divesting, having agreed to sell deposits and other assets of 12 branches to United Carolina Bank.

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