The Treasury Department has sold nearly a fifth of its stake in Puerto Rico's First Bancorp in recent months.

The Treasury disclosed in a recent transactions report for the Troubled Asset Relief Program that, as of Dec. 5, it had nearly 4.4 million shares of the $12.5 billion-asset company's stock, representing 22% of the agency's holdings. The Treasury still holds about 15.3 million shares, or roughly a 7% stake in First Bancorp, though more sales are expected.

Brian Klock, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, noted in a Wednesday note to clients that the Treasury lost $31 million on the sales. "We believe there is investor demand and if the [Treasury] opted for a more accelerated sale of the remaining stake it could more efficiently priced for them and help relieve the selling pressure of FBP's shares," Klock added.

First Bancorp accepted $424 million in Tarp capital in early 2009.

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