MADRID -- Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya said it paid $19.5 million for a 20% stake in General Electric Capital Corp. of Puerto Rico, a financial unit of General Electric Corp.

The move came as part of an agreement last July between Banco Bilbao and GE's financial arm, GE Capital, to form a strategic alliance.

Under the accord, GE Capital paid $123 million for a 1.8% stake in Banco Bilbao and took 45% of Banco Bilbao's leasing unit Finanzia.

Stake in Three Units

In turn, the Spanish bank took 9.9% in each of three GE Capital subsidiaries in the United Kingdom: First Personal Bank, First Personal Insurance, and First Personal Insurance Brokers.

GE Capital is now the second-largest foreign shareholder in Banco Bilbao after Nippon Life, the Japanese insurer, which holds 2%.

Last April, Banco Bilbao took over Royal Bank of Canada's Puerto Rican network, Royal Bank of Puerto Rico.

Banco Bilbao has said it intended to expand its presence in Puerto Rico in order to build a regional center for its activities in Miami, Mexico, Central America, and the Carribbean.

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