U.S. Bancorp said Wednesday it has signed an agreement to acquire Sun Capital Bancorp of St. George and its three Sun Capital Bank branches for $15.5 million.

"Sun Capital is a great fit for us because it gives us presence in a rapidly growing area and strengthens our ties in both Utah and Nevada, areas of great interest to us in terms of expansion, said Gerry Cameron, U.S. Bancorp chairman and chief executive officer.The agreement says Sun Capital stockholders will be paid with 400,000 shares of U.S. Bancorp stock in the open market and reissued in the transaction. One share of U.S. Bancorp stock will be exchanged for 0.95 of a share of Sun Capital stock.

The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The usual regulatory approvals are pending.

"This move makes sense for Sun Capital because we need the resources of a larger bank to really take advantage of the growth of this community," said Sun Capital Bank president John Allen, who will remain in St. George as Southern Utah District manager.

West One Bank in Utah was recently converted to U.S. Bank of Utah in another acquisition, and U.S. Bancorp recently reached an agreement with SuperTarget to put bank branches in several of its stores. U.S. Bank of Utah has 26 branches, all in the Salt Lake area.

Sun Capital has assets of $70 million. It has two branch offices in St. George, one in Hurricane and a lending office in Mesquite, Nev.

Portland-based U.S. Bancorp is one of the 30 largest bank holding companies in the nation with assets of nearly $33 billion. The company has more than 600 branches serving Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California.