CHARLOTTE, N.C. — First Union Corp. and Wachovia Corp. could win final approval of their planned $14.4 billion merger as early as today, when the Federal Reserve Board is to consider the matter at an afternoon meeting.

Fed approval is the last hurdle for the two North Carolina companies as they aim for a Sept. 1 closing. They have pledged that 38 branches in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia would be sold to allay antitrust concerns.

The combined company, to be known as Wachovia, would be headquartered in Charlotte. The companies have said that the combination would save $890 million, and that jobs would be reduced by about 7,000, half through attrition.

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