Shawmut National Corp. said Monday it signed a definitive agreement to acquire Barclays Business Credit, the U.S. commercial finance subsidiary of Barclays Bank PLC, for $290 million.

For Shawmut, which has dual headquarters in Boston and Hartford, Conn., the deal means it can expand its lending operations nationwide instead of depending on its New England market, where the economy has only recently begun a slow improvement.

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