Independent Bank Corp. (INDB) of Rockland, Mass., reported that its first-quarter income rose 9% from a year earlier, to $12.2 million, as customer growth led to increased loans and fee income.

The $5 billion-asset company said Thursday that total loans for the first quarter rose more than 6% from a year earlier, to $3.9 billion. Commercial loans rose almost 8% from a year earlier, to $2.7 billion.

In August, the company's bank, Rockland Trust, hired several asset-based lenders from Webster Financial Corp. (WBS) in Waterbury, Conn., to strengthen this line of business.

The company's first-quarter noninterest income rose more than 10% from a year earlier, to $13.9 million, while net interest income rose 2.5%, to $40.3 million. Independent Bank's interchange and automated teller machine fees totaled $2.4 million, up about 39% from a year earlier, because of sales and marketing programs, the company said. Mortgage banking income rose 27% from a year earlier, to $1.3 million, while investment management revenue rose almost 11% to $3.6 million.

Independent Bank's first-quarter loan-loss provision fell 27% from a year earlier, to $1.6 million.

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