Fulton Financial Corp. of Lancaster, Pa., announced Monday that it has agreed to purchase 18 branches in three states from Sovereign Bank of Wyomissing, Pa.

The six branches in New Castle County in Delaware, 11 in southern New Jersey, and one in southeastern Pennsylvania would add $319 million of deposits and $53 million of loans to the $6.6 billion-asset multibank holding company.

The Delaware branches, which would extend Fulton’s reach north within the state, “are of real interest to us,” said Rufus A. Fulton 2d, chairman and chief executive officer. “There are not many opportunities left in Delaware for expansion through acquisition.”

The purchase would also expand Fulton’s presence in southern New Jersey. It plans to close a branch in Pennsville, N.J., after the acquisition, which is expected to close in the second quarter.

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