Mortgage lenders Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati, and R&G Financial Corp., San Juan, Puerto Rico, have signed an agreement under which Fifth Third will acquire the Puerto Rican company's R-G Crown Bank, which operates 30 branches in Florida and three in Augusta, Georgia.The combination strengthens Fifth Third's presence in the Florida markets of greater Orlando and Tampa Bay and expands its footprint into the Jacksonville, Fla., and Augusta, Ga., markets. Under the agreement, Fifth Third would pay $288 million to R-G Financial for Crown and assume $50 million of trust preferred securities. Rolando Rodriguez, CEO of R&G Financial, said the transaction "reflects the company's determination to concentrate its operations and core competencies in Puerto Rico. Second, and just as significant, the completion of the transaction will improve the RGF's overall liquidity and capital position."

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