Wachovia (WB) - Get Report and SouthTrust (SOTR) agreed to divest themselves of 18 branches to reach a deal with the Justice Department.

The companies, which agreed in June to merge in a $14.3 billion deal, said they would sell 18 SouthTrust branches totaling $600 million in deposits. Three branches are in Augusta, Ga., and the other 15 are in the Florida cities Deland, Jacksonville and Lakeland. Buyers haven't been identified, but the companies said they would insist that acquirers of the branches offer jobs to employees in the affected banks.

"We value the employees, customers and the communities served by the 18 financial centers that are being sold as part of the merger review process for the proposed merger, and we are dedicated to finding buyers that share that commitment," said Wachovia's Ben Jenkins.

The companies plan to merge under a deal in which Charlotte, N.C., banking giant Wachovia will swap 0.89 share for each share of Birmingham, Ala.-based SouthTrust. The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

On Wednesday, SouthTrust slipped 13 cents to $40.84, and Wachovia dropped 22 cents to $46.68.