United Community Banks (UCBI) in Blairsville, Ga., has registered the preferred shares it issued to the Treasury Department as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program for potential resale, a key step for banks that want to be included in any upcoming auctions of Tarp shares.

The $7 billion-asset United Community received $180 million from Tarp in late 2008 and has been making quarterly dividend payments since. The company said in a news release late Monday that its registration to re-sell the securities it issued to the Treasury replaces a previous registration it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that expired.

The move could make the shares easier to sell to private investors if the Treasury were to auction them off.

The Treasury last month auctioned off its shares in six community banks as part of its effort to unwind its Tarp investments. It has not said if it plans to conduct similar auctions in the future, but if it does it is expected it would only select banks whose shares are eligible to be resold. Last week, Yadkin Valley Financial (YAVY) in Elkin, N.C., said it registered its shares for resale so it could potentially participate in any future auctions.

United Community also said Monday that it has filed a shelf registration with the SEC that would permit it to sell up to $300 million in debt and equity securities in the future. The registration replaces a previous $300 million shelf registration that has expired.

"Although we have no current plans to issue securities at this time, it is our longstanding practice to maintain an effective and up-to-date universal shelf registration statement to ensure flexibility should the need arise," Jimmy Tallent, United Community's president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

United Community's shares were up 3.5% in early trading Tuesday, to $8.96.

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