Citizens Financial Group said Tuesday its net income totaled $46.2 million in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, the first quarter of its fiscal year.

The results were off 4.3% from the comparable period a year earlier, when Citizens recorded an extraordinary gain on the sale of a mortgage servicing portfolio. Excluding that event, earnings were up 30%, the company said.

Citizens' assets jumped $1.7 billion, to $16.8 billion, in the 12-month period. The bank attributed the increase to acquisitions in 1997 of Grove Bank, Newton, Mass., and Bank of New Haven, as well as loan growth. Net interest income for the quarter was $151.2 million, up 11% over the comparable quarter a year earlier.

Citizens Financial, which is jointly owned by Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and Bank of Ireland, has 274 branches in four New England states.

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