BALTIMORE -- Provident Bankshares said it igned a letter of intent to buy Sterling Bank and Trust Co., a Maryland state-chartered commercial bank with assets of $70 million.

The purchase price will be 1.5 times Sterling's book value as of Sept. 30 and will be payable in Providnt stock. The deal has an indicated value of about $11 million, the company said.

The acquisition was approved in principle by Provident Bankshares' board. Pending approvals from Sterling shareholders and regulations ob both insitutions, the transaction is expected to be completed within six months.

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