BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. said Thursday that its third-quarter loss narrowed considerably from the same period last year, but that credit quality weakened somewhat during one of its last quarters as a bank holding company.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company reported a loss of $11.8 million in the quarter, down from a loss of $25.2 million in the third quarter of 2010, largely due to a 23% drop in its provision for loan losses, to $17.9 million

When compared with this year's second quarter, however, the provision rose 67%, due to a 19% increase in loan delinquencies and a $7.5 million chargeoff relating to a factoring joint venture it closed. Overall, total nonperforming assts rose 3%, to $420 million, from the previous quarter but were down 15% from a year earlier.

BankAtlantic's earnings news came out two days after the $3.7 billion-asst announced that it is selling most of its banking unit, BankAtlantic Bank, to BB&T Corp. for a $301 million deposit premium. BankAtlantic Bancorp is to retain $623.6 million of assets, more than half of which are nonperforming loans, and intends to shed its holding company status after sale closes sometime next year.

BankAtlantic Bancorp's chairman and chief executive, Alan Levan said in the earnings release that the bank's sale to BB&T will allow the company to pay $39.1 million deferred interest on its trust preferred securities. The company has deferred interest payments on the securities since early 2009.

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