The Justice Department on Wednesday cleared Chittenden Corp.'s $454 million deal to buy Vermont Financial Services Corp., on the condition that Chittenden sell 17 branches.

Chittenden, with $2.1 billion of assets, announced earlier this month that it plans to sell 14 branches to Cleveland's Charter One Financial Inc. A spokeswoman for the company said it is in negotiations to sell three more offices.

The deal is still subject to the approval of the Federal Reserve Board. The spokeswoman said Chittenden still hopes to complete its acquisition in June.

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