Fast-growing Greater Bay Bancorp plans to add a Northern California institution to its roster of community banks.

The Palo Alto, Calif., super community banking company said late Tuesday that it will buy Bay Area Bancshares of Redwood City for $43.7 million in stock, or 3.04 times book value. Greater Bay, with $1.6 billion of assets, would swap its shares for Bay Area stock, the ratio depending on Bay Area's average trading price leading up to the closing.

Greater Bay was formed in October 1996 through a merger of equals between Cupertino (Calif.) National Bank and Mid-Peninsula Bank in Palo Alto. The acquisition of $152 million-asset Bay Area would be Greater Bay's third since December 1997. The deal is expected to close early in the second quarter.

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