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BIRMINGHAM, AL-AmSouth Bancorp. has struck a deal with the Department of Justice to sell 52 of branches in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, making up approximately 7% of the bank’s 700 locations. The agreement was reached to settle concerns about potential antitrust violations inherent in AmSouth’s pending $9.8 billion merger with Regions Financial Corp.

An AmSouth spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that negotiations are under way with potential investors for the assets, indicating the preference is to sell the 52 branches as a portfolio. “We’d like to sell these as soon as possible as the merger will close next month,” he adds.

Branches for sale are situated in Decatur, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa, AL; and Clarksdale, Greenville, Greenwood and Starkville, MS. Tennessee branches up for sale are located in Crossville, Dayton-Spring City, Fayetteville, Nashville, Paris, Shelbyville and Smithville.

According to a press release about the agreement, the Department of Justice and the Federal Reserve determined which branches needed to be sold based on deposits, loans and fixed assets. Divestitures are scheduled to take place in the first half of 2007.

“We are dedicated to selling these branches to companies that share our commitment to our associates, our customers, and our communities,” C. Dowd Ritter, AmSouth’s chairman, president and CEO, says in the release.

The financial institutions announced the merger in the summer, with Regions lined up to acquire AmSouth’s stock. When the deal’s done, Regions will be one of the nation’s Top 10 banks. Shareholders of both banks approved the merger Oct. 5. After the merger closes, Regions will emerge with nearly $140 billion in assets, a market capitalization of about $26 billion and control of 2,000 branches in the South, Midwest and Texas.

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