United Community Bancshares Inc. in Blairsville, Ga., has not reported a profitable quarter since mid-2008, but its chief executive said Thursday that he expects that to change starting this quarter.

Though the $8 billion-asset company reported a $142 million first-quarter loss, Jimmy Tallent said in a Thursday press release that steps taken recently — raising $380 million in capital and unloading nearly $345 million of problem loans — "are key accomplishments toward our goal of achieving sustained profitability beginning in the second quarter of 2011."

United raised capital by selling common and preferred stock to an investment group led by an affiliate of Corsair Capital LLC. The investors own about 22.5% of United's voting and nonvoting stock.

Selling bad assets, mostly tied to real estate, reduced nonperforming assets to their lowest level in three years. Such assets totaled $138 million at March 31, down 57% from the fourth quarter and 67% from a year earlier. United plans to keep selling substandard and nonperforming loans in the second and third quarters. The company also said that it wrote down the value of foreclosed properties to 30% of the unpaid principal.

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