READING, Pa. - Meridian Bancorp said it had agreed to settle shareholder lawsuits arising out of its September 1990 announcement of a $75 million special provision for loan losses.

The $3.25 million settlement, pending approval by a federal court, will be met in large part from insurance proceeds, the company said.

Meridian said it still "firmly contends" that the litigation was without merit. It termed the settlement a comparatively inexpensive way to avoid potentially lengthy and time-consuming legislation.

The class action was filed on behalf of certain investors who purchased Meridian common stock between Aug. 17, 1989 and Sept. 26, 1990.

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