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Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 8:00am

Georgia Banks Return To Profitability

Georgia banks appear to be turning a corner.

A report released Tuesday shows, Georgia banks are profitable for the first time in three years.

Sixty percent of Georgia banks were profitable last year, compared to 46% the year before.

Ed Sibbald of Georgia Southern University's Center for Excellence in Financial Services says, Georgia's banks are ready for the next big step.

"That means they're looking for new opportunities to lend money," Sibbald says. "They're gradually rebuilding their balance sheet strength. Now there's still some scar tissue, but they're stronger now than they were a year ago."

Customer loan demand remains low, with borrowers reluctant to take on new debt.

But Sibbald says, Georgia's banks are ready for the next big step.

"Banks are looking proactively for loans," he says. "And it's not a question of tightening up credit standing or loosening credit standing. They're making an effort to find good loans to book."

The quarterly profile released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shows earnings for Georgia banks improved by about $2.5 billion last year over the previous one.

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