Crescent Financial Bancshares (CRFN) in Raleigh, N.C., continued to narrow its losses during the third quarter.

The company, which is backed by a pair of private equity firms, lost $321,000 during the third quarter, after taking into account dividends on preferred stock. Crescent lost $787,000 in the second quarter and $3.4 million a year earlier. Excluding the dividend, the $794 million-asset company would have earned $46,000 in the third quarter.

Net interest income rose 3% from the second quarter and 13% from a year earlier, to $7.6 million. Total loans increased 6% from the second quarter but fell 9% from a year earlier, to $539 million. The net interest margin expanded 19 basis points from the second quarter and 127 basis points from a year earlier, to 4.44%.

The loan-loss provision decreased by 51% from the second quarter and 78% from a year earlier, to $958,000. Nonperforming assets, as a percentage of total assets, fell to 1.61% at Sept. 30, compared with 2.38% at June 30.

Noninterest income rose 38% from the second quarter and 61% from a year earlier, to $2.3 million, because of higher mortgage revenue and a $483,000 securities gain. Noninterest expenses rose 12% from the second quarter and 31% from a year earlier, to $8.8 million.

Crescent is a unit of Piedmont Community Bank Holdings, which was formed in 2009 and backed by Stone Point Capital in Greenwich, Conn., and Lightyear Capital in New York. In September, Crescent agreed to buy ECB Bancorp (ECBE) in Engelhard, N.C. Crescent is also preparing to absorb VantageSouth Bank, another North Carolina bank that is majority owned by Piedmont Community.

Those acquisitions “will generate new revenues and create operating efficiencies for the combined institution,” Scott Custer, the president and chief executive of Piedmont Community and Crescent Financial, said in a press release Tuesday. The deals “will provide Crescent Financial with new markets, relationship-focused bankers, strong core deposit franchises, and an established SBA lending and agricultural lending program."

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