Sterling Bancorp in New York City said Friday that it plans to sell $33.6 million of common stock in a public offering.

The $2 billion-asset company said it will sell 3.5 million shares at $9.60 each. Sterling said it may use the proceeds to help buy back the $42 million in preferred stock that it issued the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

It could also use the money to finance acquisitions or extend credit to, or fund investments in, the company's subsidiaries. The underwriters also exercised an option to purchase up to 525,000 additional shares to cover any over allotments. The offering is expected to close on March 9.

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