Bank of the Carolinas Corp. said it has retained Hutchison Co., an investment bank in North Carolina, to help it look at strategic options to enhance shareholder value.

The company said its board directed Hutchison to study all possible alternatives and hasn't restricted it to looking at any particular options.

In February, the bank said it would defer the payment of its regular quarterly cash dividend on preferred stock issued in connection with the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program. The bailout recipient said it is still well capitalized despite challenging economic conditions.

In late trading Friday, it shares were up nearly 8%, to 95 cents.

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