BOSTON - Boston Bank of Commerce moved a step closer to fulfilling its mission of building the first nationwide bank run by African-Americans, signing a purchase agreement with Founders National Bank in Los Angeles.

The $150-million asset Boston bank said Tuesday it would buy $106 million-asset Founders National, making the combined entity the third-largest bank in the country run by African-Americans, after Carver Bancorp in New York and Seagate National Bank in Chicago.

The combined company would have more than $260 million of assets and seven branches in Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles.

The deal - valued at about $17 million - calls for 3.6 shares of BBOC to be exchanged for each share of Founders, the Boston company said. While both banks are privately held, 60% of the combined bank would be owned by BBOC and the rest by Founders.

Founders would keep its name but operate as a division of BBOC, which also runs Peoples Bank of Commerce in Miami.

The deal is scheduled to close by yearend and is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

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