First Union Corp. said Friday it will cut 1,400 jobs at Signet Banking Corp. - 36% of the work force - when the two companies merge Nov. 28.

The cuts are part of an effort to save $242 million in annual costs, or 50% of the expenses at Richmond, Va.-based Signet.

First Union said it will also close 78 of Signet's 228 branches in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., as well as 19 First Union branches in those areas. An additional 29 Signet branches are for sale.

The branch closings will begin in March, the bank said. Job cuts will begin later this month and will continue through April.

Most of the branch consolidation is occurring in Richmond, Baltimore, and Washington, where both companies have a strong presence.

After the merger closes, First Union will have 307 branches and about $11 billion of assets in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington.

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