WASHINGTON - Centura Banks Inc. agreed to sell 18 North Carolina branches with roughly $315 million in deposits to gain government approval of its merger with Triangle Bancorp., the Justice Department said Monday.

"These divestitures will assure that local customers, particularly small businesses, continue to have competitively priced banking services," said Joel I. Klein, the assistant attorney general in charge of antitrust matters.

Centura, an $8.9 billion-asset bank in Rocky Mount, N.C., still needs the Federal Reserve Board's approval before buying $2.3 billion-asset Triangle, of Raleigh, N.C. The deal, announced in August, is valued at around $600 million.

The combined bank would have 280 branches in the Carolinas and Virginia. The 18 branches that will be put up for sale are in Rocky Mount, Columbus County, Granville County, Roanoke Rapids, Warren County, and Washington County.

-Barbara A. Rehm

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