The new owners of First Mariner Bank believe the Baltimore bank could return to profitability in the first quarter.

RKJS Bank in Cockeysville, Md., paid $17.7 million for First Mariner in a bankruptcy auction earlier this year. The group initially lost out to National Penn Bancshares, though the Allentown, Pa., banking company dropped its bid after a judge reopened the bidding. First Mariner's parent company, First Mariner Bancorp, filed for bankruptcy as part of a $100 million recapitalization plan.

RKJS recapitalized the $876 million-asset bank with $110 million, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. RKJS told the publication that, if all goes according to plan, they could take First Mariner public in about three years.

First Mariner's executives also told the publication that the bank has added about 400 checking accounts in the last two months, touting the gains as a sign of momentum.

The bank lost $2.4 million during the first nine months of this year, including nearly $2 million in the third quarter, according to regulatory documents.

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