In a deal struck for Internet intelligence purposes as well as the additional business it may generate, First Union Corp. said it reached an agreement to become one of LendingTree Inc.'s participating lenders.

First Union said Monday its agreement covers home mortgage and home equity loans and said that it began accepting qualification forms from LendingTree's web site, www.lendingtree.com, on March 31.

First Union, the nation's sixth-largest banking company with about $253 billion in assets at Dec. 31, 1999, said that, beyond the opportunity to build its home equity lending business, its LendingTree participation would help it develop its own web-based offerings.

"We look forward to working with LendingTree to meet customers' financial needs while gaining insight into borrower behavior online that will allow us to further enhance our Internet capabilities and product offerings," said David Carroll, chief e- commerce officer of First Union in a statement announcing the agreement.

Customers, upon reaching LendingTree's site, fill out a qualification form for one of five loan types: home mortgage, home equity, automobile financing, credit cards or personal loans. Applications are processed through LendingTree's filtering technology and matched up against underwriting criteria of participating lenders, whose loan offers are then presented to the customer.

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