Fulton Financial Corp., of Lancaster, invested $675,000 in United Bancshares Inc., a Philadelphia institution that describes itself as an "African American controlled and managed bank." United operates as United Bank of Philadelphia and has three branches in the city.

Chartered in 1992, United has struggled financially throughout its history. Over the past decade, the value of its equity has fallen to $2.7 million on Dec. 31, from $8.3 million ten years earlier because of losses.

Fulton purchased a new class of shares that account for close to 20 percent of the United's total equity, Fulton said in a news release.

"Our capital investment will enhance United Bank's ability to serve Philadelphia's communities and neighborhoods through its commercial banking business, which has a particular focus on, and sensitivity to, groups that have traditionally been underserved, including African-Americans, Hispanics and women," Fulton's chairman and chief executive, E. Philip Wenger, said.

At the end of last year, United had net loans of $38.5 million and total deposits of $50.6 million.

Fulton, with $14.7 billion in net loans and $15 billion in deposits at the end of last year, has 242 banking offices in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia.