CompassBank agreed Monday to pay $110 million in stock for Sandwich (Mass.) Bancorp. and announced it is taking steps to preserve its own independence.

The acquisition of $519 million-asset Sandwich, slated to close in the fall, would give $1.1 billion-asset CompassBank 11 branches on Cape Cod.

The agreed-upon price of $53 per share equals 2.6 times Sandwich's book value and 21.8 times its 1997 earnings.

CompassBank said its parent, 1855 Bancorp, would reorganize into a two- tiered mutual holding company. Following the lead of other state-chartered savings banks in the Northeast, 1855 Bancorp, a mutual holding company, would create a mid-tier stock holding company and sell a 49% stake in it to CompassBank depositors.

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