F&M National Corp. in Winchester, Va., announced Thursday that it is acquiring Atlantic Financial Corp. in Newport News, Va., for $70.6 million in stock.

F&M, a $3.2 billion-asset holding company with 10 banks in three states, said it pursued the deal to get instant entry into Virginia's fast-growing Tidewater region. Atlantic , which has $385.5 million of assets, has 15 branches in southeastern Virginia.

"We are acquiring a well-managed bank in an area that is considered to be the second-fastest-growing in the state" behind northern Virginia, said Alfred B. Whitt, F&M National's president and chief executive officer.

The announcement came two months after F&M agreed to buy 15 Virginia branches and $310 million of assets from Wachovia Bank of Winston-Salem, N.C. The two deals would boost F&M's assets by about $700 million, Mr. Whitt said.

Atlantic is the parent of Peninsula Trust Bank and United Community Bank. The postmerger company would be named F&M Bank-Atlantic, and both companies' management would remain in place, said William Farinholt, Atlantic's president and CEO.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2001.

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