Huntington Bancshares has obtained US antitrust approval to acquire FirstMerit as both the entities agreed to sell some of their branches, said the Justice Department.

The banks have agreed to sell 13 branches in Northeast Ohio, with approximately $737.8m in deposits, to resolve antitrust concerns that arose from Huntington’s planned acquisition of FirstMerit.

Following the acquisition which is estimated to be worth nearly $3.4bn, Huntington is expected become the largest bank in Ohio based on deposits.

The two banks have also agreed to sell two branches in Ashtabula County and 11 branches in Stark County, Ohio. 

The proposed merger is subject to the final approval of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. 

Huntington spokesman Brent Wilder said in an email statement to Reuters: “"We will announce the buyer for these (divested) branches and their assets following the determination by the Department of Justice of the buyer's competitive suitability, which determination is still pending,"

"The divestiture of the branches to the buyer is also subject to the regulatory approval of the relevant banking agency."

Huntington, a holding company of The Huntington National Bank, Columbus, Ohio, holds approximately $73bn in assets. It operates over 750 branches and 1,500 ATMs in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 

FirstMerit has nearly $26.1bn in assets, operating about 370 branches and 400 ATMs in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

 Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse said: “Today’s settlement protects banking customers in Ashtabula County and the Greater Canton area by ensuring that they continue to have access to competitively priced banking products.” 

Image: Huntington Center (skyscraper) and Building (foreground) in Downtown Columbus. Photo courtesy of Analogue Kid/Wikipedia.