Independent Bank Corp. Inc. in Rockland, Mass., announced late Sunday that it is acquiring the $981 million-asset Benjamin Franklin Bancorp Inc. in Franklin, Mass., for about $125 million in stock.

The deal would create a $4.5 billion-asset banking company with more than 70 branches in southeastern Massachusetts and suburban Boston. It is expected to close early in the second quarter, at which point the 11 Benjamin Franklin branches would become branches of Independent's bank subsidiary, Rockland Trust Co.

In a conference call early Monday, Independent's chief executive, Christopher Odleifson, said the deal would move his company into areas south and west of Boston that "are universally viewed as the most superb markets in the state."

He also stressed that Benjamin Franklin is a strong company that has "avoided industry land mines," such as subprime mortgage lending.

"This is by no means a troubled bank takeover," he said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.