NORFOLK, AUG. 17 -- Sovran Financial Corp. today agreed to buy Dresser Leasing Corp., from Dresser Industries Inc. for $38 million.

When the transaction is completed which is expected by year's end, Dresser Leasing, a Pittsburgh equipment and vehicle leasing company, will be merged into Sovran Leasing Corp., officials said.

Sovran Financial Corp. is the holding company of Sovran Bank, N.A., Sovran Bank/Maryland, Sovran Bank/DC National in Washington and Sovran Bank/Delaware.

The company operates 357 banking offices in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Delaware, as well as an office in the Bahamas.

In addition, it has 146 offices of financial services affiliates in 84 cities in 10 states.

The combined company will have total leases outstanding of about $420 million.

Sovran Leasing has Virginia offices in Arlington, Richmond and Virginia Beach; Maryland offices in Baltimore and Bethesda, and North Carolina offices in Charlotte and Raleigh.

Dresser Leasing operates sales offices in Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, Cincinnati, Columbia, Md., and Maulon, N.J.

C.A. Cutchins III, chairman of Sovran Financial Corp., described the transaction as an opportunity to satisfy the increasing leasing needs of "our existing customers and to expand into new vital markets."

John Murphy, Dresser's chairman and president, said the divestiture of Dresser Leasing is part of a comprehensive program to redirect "our investment in noncore financial service operations into our basic businesses."

John Salzer, president of Dresser Leasing, will manage the merger of that company into Sovran.

Cutchins said Salzer brings an enviable record of marketing and management expertise, and "we are pleased that he has agreed to oversee the process of combination.

"We look forward to expanding our fleet and vehicle leasing and to diversifying our portfolio with this excellent and profitable company," Salzer said