With the announcement of their merger agreement Monday, First Union Corp. and First Fidelity Bancorp. broke new ground in at least two ways: transaction value and geographic coverage.

The $5.4 billion indicated value, an exchange of First Union stock equal to 1.9 times First Fidelity's book value, is the highest in U.S. banking history, exceeding by some $700 million the price BankAmerica Corp. paid in 1992 for Security Pacific Corp.

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