Citizens Financial Group Inc. said Monday that earnings jumped 44%, to $184.6 million, in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

The $16.2 billion-asset bank credited the healthy returns to a $27 million after-tax gain on the sale of its third-party mortgage servicing portfolio, continued improvement in the core banking business, and the integration of its New Hampshire bank, acquired in April 1996.

For its fourth quarter, Citizens said, net profits soared 51% to $42.3 million.

Net interest income was up 33% for the year, to $571.6 million, and 14% for the quarter, to $148.2 million. Total loans and leases increased $1.3 billion, to $9.6 billion.

Citizens has 274 branches and operates in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. It is owned 76.5% by Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and 23.5% by Bank of Ireland.

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