CFX Corp. is planning to sell five southern New Hampshire branches as a condition of its merger with Peoples Heritage Financial Group Inc.

Keene, N.H.-based CFX said Monday that it would sell the branches, with $159 million of deposits, to First Essex Bancorp, Andover, Mass. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Peoples Heritage, Portland, Maine, announced plans last October to acquire CFX for about $703 million of stock. The sale, expected to close next week, would make Peoples Heritage's New Hampshire subsidiary, Bank of New Hampshire, the largest bank in the Granite State, with 84 branches. To preserve competition, federal regulators required that CFX divest some New Hampshire deposits.

The five branches are in Manchester, Concord and Hillsborough. Leonard A. Wilson, president and chief executive officer at $1.2 billion-asset First Essex, said it was "serendipitous" that CFX was selling the branches at a time First Essex was looking to expand.

"This puts us in two of the most attractive commercial markets in the state, Greater Concord and Greater Manchester," Mr. Wilson said.

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