Summit Bancorp of Princeton, N.J., announced Monday that it is buying a New Jersey insurance broker.

The banking company said the deal would make it the largest insurance broker in its home state and the 16th-biggest in the country.

Summit, which said it is now ranked 33d nationally, expects to close its deal for Meeker Sharkey Financial Group Inc. of Cranford by the end of March. Terms of the tax-free stock swap were not disclosed.

The deal would give Summit 191 agents, bringing its sales force to 330.

"Summit is struggling to grow revenue, so any avenue to do that in a nontraditional way makes sense," said David Trone, a banking analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston.

And though insurance has yet to be a major contributor to the bottom line at banks, Summit's insurance operations are growing significantly, Mr. Trone observed.

"It's becoming more meaningful as they cobble together these small agencies," he said.

The $36 billion-asset banking company, which had $33.5 million of commission revenues last year, has acquired five insurance agencies in two years. It offers a wide range of insurance products, including life policies, employee benefits, group health, and property and casualty lines.

Meeker Sharkey, which had $22.2 million of commission revenues last year, would add depth to Summit's insurance business, said Faith P. Goldstein, senior vice president of communications for Summit. The agency has a particularly strong commercial business and sells property and casualty products, group health insurance, and retirement services.

The banking company's insurance business falls under Summit Financial Services Group Inc., which also includes the bank's brokerage services. Jack Cussen, the executive vice president in charge of that unit announced late last year that he would retire by the end of January.

Summit plans to put its insurance business into a new unit, led by Meeker Sharkey chief executive Thomas Sharkey, Ms. Goldstein said.

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