United Community Banks Inc. in Blairsville, Ga., which is still trying to unload troubled assets and preserve its capital position, said it sold more than a dozen of its largest nonperforming loans in the third quarter.

The $8.1 billion-asset company's third-quarter earnings report said the $66 million of nonperforming assets, along with three additional loans that were written down under a pending sale, "represent a significant portion" of its previously announced $55.7 million chargeoffs in the quarter.

Jimmy Tallent, United's president and chief executive, said in Thursday's earnings release: "We will continue our strategy to deal aggressively with problem credits, with a goal of emerging as quickly as possible from this difficult credit cycle."

Nonperforming assets continued to rise, however. They were $177.7 million at Sept. 30, up 180% from a year earlier and 16.4% from the second quarter.

United swung to a loss of $39.9 million from a profit of $22.5 million in last year's third quarter.

Deposits totaled $6.7 billion, up 1.5% from a year earlier but down 3.2% from the second quarter. United cited seasonal changes for the drop and said "some of the decrease in customer deposits this quarter certainly reflects the concerns people are having about the banking industry."

To bolster capital United said it plans to complete a $12 million in-house trust-preferred securities offering this month and is considering applying to participate in the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program. In August the company raised $30 million in subordinated debt.

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