Wachovia Corp. announced Tuesday that it has agreed to buy two affiliated employee benefits firms in Greenville, S.C.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close at the end of April, were not disclosed.

The firms - Hunt, DuPree, Rhine & Associates Inc. and Retirement Plan Securities Inc. - offer employers consulting services and investment advice, respectively.

Hunt DuPree Rhine advises 200 government and corporate clients on defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans. Retirement Plan Securities manages about $500 million of assets. Together, they have 70 employees, who would be retained by Wachovia.

"This is a small acquisition aimed at increasing our capabilities and capacities in servicing our middle-market clients in our five home states," said Ray McKinney, Wachovia's executive vice president for institutional trust and retirement services.

Julian G. Hunt Sr., whose father founded Hunt Dupree Rhine in 1933, would remain as chief executive officer. He said he decided to sell the companies because "it's going to require large amounts of capital to stay current with technology and stay competitive in the marketplace.''

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