The Office of Thrift Supervision has approved BankUnited Financial Corp.'s plan to buy a Hollywood, Fla.-based savings and loan.

BankUnited will pay about $26 million to acquire Suncoast Savings and Loan Association in an all-stock deal expected to close by mid-November. Suncoast shareholders will vote on the merger Nov. 12.

Samuel Milne, chief financial officer of BankUnited, said the acquisition would increase the thrift's assets to $1.2 billion and give it six new branches in desirable locations in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

He said that BankUnited had considered opening new branches next to Suncoast's locations before entering into merger talks.

"We do plan to continue to take advantage of the consolidation in this market," Mr. Milne said. "We plan to expand either through new branching or acquisitions."

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