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North Fork Deals Gets Fed OK

Regulators give the green light to the deal with Capital One.

Nearly eight months after the deal was announced,

Capital One Financial



North Fork Bancorp


finally got the green light.

On Wednesday, the

Federal Reserve

approved Capital One's application to acquire the Melville, N.Y., bank for $14.6 billion in stock and cash.

Capital One expects the deal to close on Dec. 1, it says.

Investors were starting to wonder why the deal was taking so long, particularly since



had already completed its acquisition of California mortgage lender

Golden West Financial

for $25.5 billion.

That deal, announced in May, was completed last month.

Capital One, which has been aggressively transforming itself from a consumer finance company into a full-service banking institution, said the North Fork deal will add 355 branches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Last year the McLean, Va., company ventured into the banking sector by purchasing New Orleans-based

Hibernia National

, which had 300 branches in Louisiana and Texas.

Shares of Capital One fell 11 cents to $77.39. North Fork shares were up 9 cents to $28.32.