WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve Board on Monday approved the merger of two North Carolina banks, as well as applications from two foreign banks to open representative branches in the United States.

The Fed gave permission for First Bancorp of Troy, N.C., to acquire First Savings Bancorp of Southern Pines, N.C., and its subsidiary, First Savings Bank of Monroe County.

First Bancorp, with $624 million of assets, is the 15th-largest depository institution in North Carolina, holding less than one percent of the state's deposits. First Savings, with $330 million of assets, is the 26th-largest depository institution.

Because the banks compete directly in one specific market, the Fed approved the deal on the condition that First Bancorp divest a single branch controlling $15.6 million of deposits.

At the same meeting, the Fed granted the request of Japan's sixth-largest bank, Chuo Mitsui Trust and Banking Co. of Tokyo, to establish a representative branch in New York. It also gave permission for Caixa Economica Montepio Geral of Lisbon to open a branch in Newark, N.J. Caixa Economica is the sixth-largest bank in Portugal, with $6.7 billion of assets.

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