First Union Corp. has nearly doubled the estimated charge it will make against earnings to buy New Jersey's First Fidelity Bancorp.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the North Carolina superregional banking company said it will now take an after-tax charge of $270 million, or 97 cents per share, to cover the restructuring activities related to the acquisition.

First Union had said the charge to earnings would be $140 million, or 50 cents per share, when the $5.4 billion deal was announced on June 18.

A First Union spokesman said the change is in line with the decision to accelerate the integration of some parts of the two companies. He said the move will not change the cost savings anticipated from the merger.

In an S-4 securities registration filing, First Union said it felt the accelerated pace of consolidation will "provide substantial benefits over the next few years" and "enable the companies to maximize service to customers through a shorter transition."

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