Nearly a year after it returned to profitability, Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. (CRBC) of Flint, Mich., has been released from its enforcement action with the Federal Reserve.

The $9.5 billion-asset Citizens Republic and its bank unit have been operating under a memorandum of understanding with the Fed since July 2010, when the bank was still reeling from losses in real estate loans. The order, which required the company to reduce its problem assets and bolster its capital levels, was terminated Thursday.

The lifting of the order is a big relief for Citizens Republic's president and chief executive, Cathleen Nash, who has publicly expressed frustration with the regulator for keeping the order in place even though the company had long since met its requirements. After 12 straight money-losing quarters, Citizens Republic turned a profit in the final three quarters of 2011 and its asset quality has improved markedly.

"The lifting of our regulatory agreement is a reflection of the continuous efforts made by our team to improve capital, earnings and asset quality," Nash said in a press release Thursday. "This is another indication of our success at executing on our strategies. We remain committed to returning long-term value for our shareholders."

The company is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings April 26.

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