Publishing magnate Walter H. Annenberg has taken a 5.7% stake in First Fidelity Bancorp for "investment purposes" only, according to his lawyer, William Henrich Jr.
Mr. Annenberg began amassing shares in September, paying $45 for his initial purchases. On Monday, he notified the Securities and Exchange Commission that he had paid a total of $206.8 million for 4.7 million shares of First Fidelity. (Investors who take a 5% or greater stake in a public company must, by law, notify the SEC,)
First Fidelity shares closed Monday's trading at $44.620, down 50 cents.
Mr. Annenberg used his philanthropic organization, The Annenberg Foundation, to buy 3.4% of First Fidelity's shares. The remaining 2.3% is under his own name. His wife, Leonore, holds less than 0.001% of the stake.
Mr. Henrich, a partner with Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish & Kauffman in Philadelphia, said the founder of TV Guide would not seek a seat on the board of the Lawrenceville, NJ.-based bank. Mr. Annenberg bought the First Fidelity shares because "he thinks the bank is extremely well run," Mr. Henrich added.
Mr. Annenberg's strategy for investing in the country's 251h largest bank is similar to his other major bank investment, in San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. Management styles for both companies are very similar, analysts said.
"About the only difference between the two is WeBs Fargo is not as big in acquisitions as First Fidelity," said Hancock Institutional Equity Investors' Gerard Cassidy.
Both banks have recently increased their dividends, bought back shares of their own stock and are aggressively slashing costs to boost their stock prices, Mr. Cassidy said.
"They are well run banks and investments that appealed to him," Mr. Henrich said about his client.
Mr. Annenberg bought 5.3% of Wells Fargo stock at $76.125 a share in 1992. Since then he has increased his stake to 7.6%. The stock price has hovered above $128 for more than 10 months.
First Fidelity has not been as successful. It's stock price closed Wednesday's trading at $45.125, up $.125, 13.2% below its 12-month high of $52.