South Financial Group Inc. in Greenville, S.C., said late Tuesday that it lost $319.4 million, or $4.29 a share, in the fourth quarter, due mainly to a $237.6 million pretax goodwill impairment charge to show that its Florida banking division is now worth less than its book value and a nearly fourfold rise in its loss provision from a year earlier, at $122.9 million.

The $18.8 billion-asset South Financial also recorded $9.6 million in employee severance costs, including $7.8 million related to the abrupt retirement in October of Mack I. Whittle Jr., the former chairman and chief executive.

Excluding the goodwill impairment charge and severance costs, South Financial lost $75 million, or $1.01 a share.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 60 cents a share.

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