Bank reports net income drop in 2007

Bank reports net income drop in 2007

PARIS, Ill. – First BancTrust Corp., which has banking offices in Savoy and Rantoul, reported a drop in net income, not only for the fourth quarter of 2007 but also for the whole year.

"The year 2007 will linger in our memories as one of the toughest years we have experienced," said President Terry J. Howard, who noted First Bank & Trust recently closed one of its offices in Rantoul.

First BancTrust last week reported net income of $179,000 for the fourth quarter, down from $336,000 a year ago. Net income for the year totaled $1,056,000, down from $1,116,000 in 2006.

Howard said management increased the bank's provision for loan losses to $329,000 for the fourth quarter and $775,000 for the year.

"As a result, net earnings for the fourth quarter were reduced to 53 percent of net earnings for the same quarter last year," he said.

Howard said the bank closed one of its two offices in Rantoul on Jan. 31. That office, at 826 W. Champaign Ave., had been acquired from Central Illinois Bank about a year ago.

"We were unable to negotiate lease terms that would have allowed us to operate profitably at any time in the foreseeable future," he said. "This branch closure should enhance the efficiency of our operations in Rantoul without hampering our ability to provide a full range of financial services to the community."

The bank continues to operate its office at 1500 E. Grove Ave., Rantoul, under the First Bank of Rantoul name.

Despite the drop in earnings, First BancTrust increased its loan portfolio to $234.9 million by the end of 2007, up from $185.4 million at the end of 2006.

"Most of this 26.6 percent increase was achieved during the later months of the year, reducing the positive impact on income for 2007," Howard said.

First BancTrust Corp. is the holding company for Paris-based First Bank & Trust, which has offices in Paris, Marshall, Savoy, Rantoul and Martinsville.

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