First BanCorp of Puerto Rico reported a smaller second-quarter loss than it did a year earlier, due in part to a smaller loan-loss provision and a pair of special gains.

The San Juan, Puerto Rico, company's net loss declined 83.5% from a year earlier, to $14.9 million. The improvement in the size of its loss came as the company raised about $525 million during the quarter from Thomas H. Lee Partners, Oaktree Capital Management and other institutional investors and investment funds.

The provision fell 59.7% from a year earlier, to $59.2 million. Net interest income, excluding the provision, fell 20.7% compared to the second quarter of 2010, to $94.4 million. First BanCorp attributed the decline in net interest income primarily to a decline in average earning assets and continued maintenance of high levels of liquidity. The company also attributed about $3 million of the decline to excess liquidity in low-yield U.S. Treasury bills.

Two gains booked during the quarter also helped cut the size of its loss: a $20.2 million from the sale of mortgage-backed securities and a $6.8 million from the sale of performing residential mortgage loans.

The $14.1 billion-asset company said it continued to reduce its level of nonperforming loans during the quarter, as well as its reliance on construction loans. The company also reported that demand for loans rose during the second quarter; consumer-based loan originations increased 15% from a quarter earlier.

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