BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) ¿ Regional bank operator People's United Financial Inc. said Monday that it agreed to buy Financial Federal Corp. for $738 million in a stock and cash deal.

People's United is the holding company for People's United Bank. Financial Federal provides financing and leasing to small- and medium-sized businesses in the construction, transportation and refuse industries.

The deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, is subject to customary closing conditions and the approval of the shareholders of Financial Federal.

Under the terms of the agreement, Financial Federal shareholders will receive $11.27 in cash and one share of People's United common stock at the deal's closing. Based on the closing price of People's United on Nov. 20, the transaction is valued at $27.74 per Financial Federal share.

People's United, based in Bridgeport, said it expects the deal to boost operating earnings in 2010.

Shares of Financial Federal, which is based in New York, rose $6.35, or 31 percent, to $26.90, in afternoon trading. People's United shares fell 36 cents to $16.11.
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