A group of community organizations are mounting a challenge to First Union Corp.'s agreement to buy Signet Banking Corp.

The groups claim the merger would be "anti-competitive" and that the branch closings resulting from the deal would hurt several low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. They also allege that Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union, which has $143 billion of assets, has been deficient in complying with fair-lending laws and the Community Reinvestment Act.

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