BankUnited Inc. posted a slight increase in third-quarter earnings as the Miami Lakes company continued to aggressively grow commercial loans in Florida.  

The $11 billion-asset company originated or acquired $737 million of new loans in the first nine months of the year, including $378 million in the third quarter. The loan growth helped boost net interest income by more than 30% year over year, to nearly $129 million.

"The experienced lending teams we have hired over the last 18 months are gaining traction, and we expect continued growth in the fourth quarter and into 2012," said BankUnited's chairman, president and chief executive, John Kanas, in a news release.

Net income grew just 1.3%, however, to $45.6 million, or 45 cents per share, due largely to sharply reduced income from the resolution of covered assets under its loss-sharing agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. In all noninterest income fell by nearly half, to $32.8 million, from the third quarter of 2010.

Most of the loan growth has been on the commercial side, but the company also has been buying mortgage loans outside of Florida to "diversify credit risk" in its residential portfolio.

In its news release Thursday, BankUnited also said that it opened two branches during the third quarter and intends to open 10 more this quarter. It also said that it recently filed an application to convert from a federally chartered thrift to a national commercial bank.

BankUnited's shares climbed 5.3% Thursday, to close at $22.30.

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