Northway Bank in Berlin, N.H., has exited the Small Business Lending Fund.

The $939 million-asset bank paid about $24 million to redeem 23,593 outstanding shares, according to a news release Tuesday. Those shares were all of Northway's outstanding preferred stock in the fund.

Northway used the SBLF to expand its small-business loans by $44 million, the bank said in the release.

It initially issued the SBLF shares to the Treasury Department in September 2011. Northway is the latest bank to exit the SBLF program as low interest rates make share buybacks affordable for smaller banks. The dividend rate on such shares is scheduled to increase to 9% in March; the current rate is 1%.

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