MADRID -- Banco Santander said it was buying $60.6 million of First Fidelity Bancorp. stock from the company, raising its stake to 16.6%.

The Spanish bank, which had 13.3%, said it would pay $25.50 a share.

The move is designed to fund the New Jersey banking company's $74 million purchase of the failed Howard Savings Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Santander made its original $220 million investment in March 1991. It has an option to raise its stake to 24% over the next four years.

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