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Published: Thursday, 10/5/2006

MBT puts troubled loans at $58M

MONROE - Even after selling off $25 million in problem loans and assets, MBT Financial Corp. has about $58 million worth of troublesome accounts, its officers said yesterday.

However, officials said they hope to reduce the problem loans to under $40 million and plan to restore the bank holding company by next year to its former level of profitability.

MBT, parent of Monroe Bank & Trust, has been dealing with credit problems for several years, a trend its managers blamed largely on the economy in southeast Michigan, including relatively high unemployment rates in Monroe County, its largest market.

Officials told analysts on a conference call yesterday that the jobless rate hit 8.5 percent this summer, before falling back to the 6.5 percent range. In addition, they said the bank's asset base has been affected by uncertainty in the automotive industry, including the future of two Visteon Corp. plants in Monroe County with about 2,000 employees.

Last week, MBT announced that it had agreed to sell off $25 million of the problem assets for about $14 million and that it will take a loss of $1 million to $1.5 million for the third quarter as a result.

The firm reported a second-quarter loss of $3.6 million, largely because of credit-related accounting charges. The firm had profits averaging nearly $4.6 million a quarter for the previous five quarters.

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