Sterling Financial Corp. in Lancaster, Pa., has delayed a possible stock delisting by seeking a Nasdaq panel hearing.

The $3.3 billion-asset Sterling, which is investigating contract irregularities at its equipment-financing unit, said late Monday that it had received a Nasdaq Staff Determination letter saying its stock would be delisted Friday, because it failed to file its first-quarter report by an extended deadline.

The request for a hearing before the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel automatically stayed the delisting procedure. However, Sterling said the panel could rule against its request for continued listing.

Sterling said it would not file its 10-Q with the Securities and Exchange Commission until completing its investigation of Equipment Finance LLC, but it gave no time frame for when that might happen.

The stock has plummeted more than 25% since Sterling's April 19 disclosure of problems at Equipment Finance, which provides commercial financing for the soft pulp logging and land-clearing industries, primarily in the Southeast.

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