Associated Banc-Corp's former compliance albatross could soon become an M&A advantage.

The $24 billion-asset company has talked about its interest in acquisitions for much of the last year, but was held back by a 2012 enforcement action with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency concerning its compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering laws. The OCC lifted the order last month and, on Tuesday, the company filed a $500 million shelf registration for common stock.

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