Synovus Financial in Columbus, Ga., reported a sharp rise in fourth-quarter profit on loan growth, lower expenses, improved credit quality and other factors.

The $27 billion-asset company's net income rose 41% from a year earlier, to $51 million, or 37 cents per share.

Net interest income, after a provision for loan losses, rose 5% to $199 million. The provision fell 42%, to $8 million.

Commercial-and-industrial lending, Synovus' largest loan category, rose 4% to $10.3 billion. Synovus reported double-digit percentage increases in several loan categories, including multifamily housing, office-building mortgages and consumer mortgages.

Noninterest expense fell 3% to $185 million, on lower litigation-settlement expenses and other items. Spending on advertising rose 230% to $8 million, as Synovus recently started a television ad campaign based on the slogan "Synovus: The Bank of Here."

Fee income rose 7%, to $65 million. The results included a 68% increase in mortgage banking income to $5 million.

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