Continuing its march across northeastern New England, Peoples Heritage Financial Group Inc. has agreed to buy Haverhill, Mass.-based Family Bancorp for $113.2 million in stock.

The deal - its first foray into neighboring Massachusetts - would bring the Portland, Maine-based thrift closer to the Boston market. The acquisition would make Peoples Heritage a $5.1 billion-asset company, with branches in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Family currently has $887 million in assets.

Under the agreement, the acquired company would add 17 Massachusetts branches and six New Hampshire branches to Peoples Heritage's existing 62 Maine branches and 45 New Hampshire branches, but would operate as a separate subsidiary under the Family name.

James Moynihan, senior vice president of Advest Group in Boston, said Peoples Heritage probably will attempt more acquisitions in Massachusetts and may eventually become a New England regional, with operations in Connecticut and Vermont as well.

"To have slightly under a billion in assets in Massachusetts doesn't make much sense for Peoples Heritage," he said.

The purchase, still subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of 1996.

Under the transaction, each share of Family stock would be exchanged for 1.26 shares of Peoples Heritage stock. That's 1.6 times March 31 book value.

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