Charter One Financial Inc. on Tuesday authorized the repurchase up to six million shares of its common stock.

At Charter One's early-afternoon trading price the buyback would be worth about $167 million. Shares were up 50 cents, at $27.875.

The $24.6 billion-asset thrift said it would hold repurchased shares in treasury for reissue in connection with stock dividends and employee benefit plans. Charter One intends to rescind the buyback program before the close of its merger with St. Paul Bancorp, which is anticipated early in the fourth quarter of 1999.

Charter One has about 166 million common shares outstanding.

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