CHICAGO - Standard Federal Bancorp. has ended at least four years of speculation over who would acquire $1.9 billion-asset Bell Bancorp by agreeing to buy the thrift for $354 million in cash, or 1.2 times book value.

With the purchase, Standard Federal, with $13 billion in assets, enters a market dominated by such large players as First Chicago NBD Corp., ABN Amro North America, and BankAmerica Corp.

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