Liberty Bank in Middletown, Conn., has agreed to buy Naugatuck Valley Financial in Naugatuck, Conn.

The $4 billion-asset Liberty said in a press release Thursday that it will pay $78 million, or $11 a share, in cash for the $497 million-asset Naugatuck Valley. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

"The merger... is a strong fit for the customers, communities and the staff of both organizations" Chandler Howard, Liberty's president and chief executive, said in the release. "Our organizational philosophies and cultures are very similar, with sharp focus on exceptional customer service, providing quality products and services to meet the ever changing needs of consumers and businesses, and our shared commitment of supporting the communities we serve."

Naugatuck Valley last fall added two directors tied to firms that typically pressure banks to sell. Its bank was freed from a formal agreement with the Offices of the Comptroller of the Currency last month after boosting capital levels.

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