Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc.'s total loan portfolio shrunk $500 million last year, but it entered 2012 with big strides in commercial and industrial lending.

The $9.5 billion-asset company in Troy, Mich., reported late Thursday that its C&I loans rose 4.7% from a year earlier, to $1.5 billion at Dec. 31. Indirect consumer loans, the company's other targeted growth sector, rose 6% from a year earlier, to $871 million.

Total commercial real estate loans fell 27% from a year earlier, to $1.5 billion.

Citizens Republic earned $12.3 million, compared to a loss of $111.7 million a year earlier when it recorded a loan-loss provision of $131 million because of a bulk sale and other loan workouts. The fourth-quarter earnings fell 55% from the third quarter, when the company had a $12 million income tax benefit.

Its fourth-quarter 2011 provision fell 13% from a quarter earlier, to $15 million. Nonperforming assets decreased 25% from a quarter earlier, to $102 million. A year earlier, nonperforming assets were $280 million.

The company said in its press release that the fourth quarter was the first time since the first quarter of 2007 that nonperforming loans were below $100 million, at $87 million.

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