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.

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