One of the oldest and biggest banks based in South Carolina is being acquired by a larger North Carolina lender with a similar name.

The merger of First Citizens Bancorporation of Columbia and Raleigh's First Citizens BancShares Inc. and will create the largest family-controlled bank in the country, the companies said Tuesday.

The cash and stock deal is valued between $637 million and $676 million.

South Carolina-based First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. Inc. will become part of the buyer's financial services subsidiary, First Citizens Bank.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter if all approvals are obtained. Frank B. Holding Jr., chairman and CEO of First Citizens BancShares and First Citizens Bank, will lead the combined businesses.

"I'm pleased to announce the merger of these two strong service-oriented companies," Holding said in a statement issued Tuesday night. "Our similar cultures, values and business philosophies make this transaction a natural fit. We see great opportunity in combining to create one bank with enormous potential for future success for our stockholders, customers, associates and communities."

Jim Apple, chairman and CEO of First Citizens Bancorporation and First Citizens Bank and Trust, plans to retire once the sale in completed.

"We see so many positives to joining with a bank that has a similar culture and brings 116 years of experience in financial services," Apple said in the statement. "This agreement makes compelling strategic sense. The combined First Citizens Bank, with its robust product and service offerings and customer focus, will carry on a tradition of financial strength and growth."

The merged company would have assets of $31 billion, deposits of $26 billion, loans of $18 billion, and more than 575 branches in 18 states and Washington, D.C. It will be the sixth largest bank headquartered in the Southeast based on total assets.

The privately held Columbia-based bank that's being sold dates back 101 years. It now has 176 offices in South Carolina and Georgia. In the Charleston region, First Citizens Bank and Trust has more than 15 branches and several standalone teller machines.