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First Mariner 1Q losses continue to grow

Losses continue to grow at First Mariner Bancorp, which Wednesday reported a pre-tax loss of $7.3 million for the first quarter of 2011, compared with a pre-tax loss of $5.7 million for the first quarter of 2010.

The parent company of 1st Mariner Bank also reported declines in revenue, deposits and total assets. Capital levels at the bank continued to drop even as the company operates in violation of a 2009 cease-and-desist order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Maryland Division of Financial Regulation requiring them to be higher.

First Mariner did report some improvement with bad loans and the money set aside to cover potentially bad loans.

“During the first quarter of 2011, our credit-related costs declined significantly,” First Mariner CEO Edwin F. Hale Sr. said in a statement. “Our net charge-offs declined 55 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2010. Additionally, our provision for loan losses declined 63 percent over the same time frame. We continue to work through this difficult economy and have made progress in dealing with our problem loans.”

The Baltimore-based bank is hoping to address the capital shortfall with a deal announced last week with Priam Capital Fund I LP. Under the agreement, Priam will invest $36.4 million in First Mariner Bancorp, contingent on the holding company raising a total of $160 million in a private placement.

Hale will step down as CEO as part of the deal.

First Mariner’s shares gained 2 cents, or 3.1 percent, Wednesday to close at 65 cents.