NEW YORK - Dime Bancorp started its dutch auction tender offer Tuesday, offering to buy back 13.6 million of its shares over the next month as part of a broader initiative to boost earnings.

The offer is part of an agreement Dime reached last month with Warburg Pincus Equity Partners of New York, which injected $238 million into the thrift as it tries to fend off a $1.9 billion hostile takeover by North Fork Bancorp of Melville, N.Y.

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