The president and chief executive of First South Bancorp Inc. in Washington, N.C., is stepping down after more than three decades as its leader.

The $766 million-asset company said Tuesday that Tom Vann will retire at the end of the third quarter to spend time with his wife, travel and garden. He will remain as a consultant to the bank's board and management for the next few years. Vann became First South's managing officer in 1975 before it converted from a mutual savings bank to a state-chartered commercial bank.

Chairman Fred Holscher said that the board was assessing the services of a management selection firm to help find a successor and will consider candidates from inside and outside the company.

In a separate release, the bank reported on Friday that it earned $441,000 in the fourth quarter, after losing $6.5 million a year earlier, due primarily to improved credit quality. The company also said that it returned to profitability for the year, earning $1.6 million compared with a loss of $2.4 million in 2010.

The bank's provision for credit losses in the quarter dropped 81% from a year earlier to $2.6 million. The credit loss provision for 2011 totaled $10.8 million, down 51% from 2010.

Vann said in that news release that reducing nonperforming assets will continue to be the bank's top priority for 2012. For the fourth quarter, nonperforming assets increased 13% from a year earlier to $60 million. Net chargeoffs also rose almost 71% from a year earlier to $5.8 million.

First South's shares were trading at $3.44 Tuesday afternoon, up almost 6% from Friday's closing price.

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