Peoples Heritage Financial Group of Portland, Maine, said Monday that it has agreed to purchase Catalano Insurance Agency Inc. of Methuen, Mass.

The $9.8 billion-asset banking company said the deal for the property and casualty agency would close within 60 days. Terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition of Catalano, which has six offices in northeastern Massachusetts, would mark Peoples' first foray into insurance in that state. Under a recent revision to Massachusetts law, banks may own insurance agencies beginning next month, said Brian Arsenault, a bank spokesman.

With Catalano serving the same area as Peoples' subsidiary Family Bank, "It's a pretty good match geographically," Mr. Arsenault said.

But Catalano is just a part of the bank's more ambitious plans for insurance sales in Massachusetts, he said. "We will look at either expanding the other offices of Catalano or acquiring other agencies."

Catalano, with premiums of $21 million last year, will retain its name and its staff of 50. It will become a division of People's subsidiary Morse, Payson & Noyes Insurance, Portland.

Morse, purchased by Peoples last October, has about $120 million in annual premiums and has contributed $6 million to the bank's noninterest income so far this year, according to the bank.

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