Shawmut National Corp, hit the acquisition trail again on Friday, agreeing to buy Gateway Financial Corp., a Connecticut thrift company, for about $152 million in stock.

The deal -- Shawmut's thrid buyout announcement in the past eight months -- will make Shawmut the second-biggest player in affluent Fairfield County. Gateway, with $1.3 billion of assets, operates 28 branches in the county, one of the nation's wealthiest.

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