Noninterest expense for the fourth quarter of 2012 totaled $29.5 million, a decrease of $0.7 million, or 2.4%, from the third quarter of 2012 and a decrease of $1.6 million, or 5.3%, from the fourth quarter of 2011. The decrease from the third quarter was driven by a decrease in OREO expense of $0.7 million, occupancy expense of $0.2 million, and other expense of $0.1 million, partially offset by higher compensation expense of $0.3 million. The reduction in OREO expense was driven by a lower level of valuation adjustments and to a lesser extent a reduction in property carrying costs. Occupancy expense declined due to lower property tax expense and utilities expense. The reduction in other expense reflects a decrease in printing and supplies due to lower usage and a lower level of operational losses. The increase in compensation was attributable to higher pension plan expense and stock compensation expense partially offset by lower expense for cash incentives. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, the decrease was primarily attributable to lower OREO expense of $1.5 million and other expense of $0.7 million partially offset by higher compensation expense of $0.5 million. A lower level of valuation adjustments and property carrying costs drove the reduction in OREO expense. Other expense declined due to a reduction in advertising expense and lower expense for the Visa swap liability associated with the sale of our Visa shares during 2011. A higher level of expense for our pension plan and stock compensation plans partially offset by lower associate salary expense drove the unfavorable variance in compensation.       

For the full year 2012, noninterest expense totaled $124.6 million, a decrease of $1.7 million, or 1.3%, from 2011 primarily attributable to a decline in OREO expense of $1.2 million, occupancy expense of $0.5 million, intangible amortization of $0.2 million, and other expense of $0.7 million, partially offset by higher compensation expense of $0.6 million and furniture/equipment expense of $0.3 million. A lower level of valuation adjustments drove the decline in OREO expense. Occupancy expense decreased due to a decline in building maintenance/repairs and utility expense reflecting our efforts to re-negotiate vendor contracts and proactively manage our energy costs. The reduction in intangible amortization expense reflects the full amortization of certain core deposit intangibles related to past acquisitions. Other expense decreased primarily due to lower expense for advertising of $0.7 million, FDIC insurance of $0.4 million, postage of $0.2 million, and miscellaneous expense of $0.7 million, partially offset by higher professional fees of $1.0 million and processing costs of $0.3 million. The decline in advertising expense reflects a lower level of brand promotional activities and improved control over public relations costs. FDIC insurance costs declined due to maintenance of a lower assessment base during 2012. The reduction in postage primarily reflects migration of clients to electronic statements and improved control over mailing activities. Lower expense for the Visa swap liability associated with the sale of our Visa shares during 2011 drove the decline in miscellaneous expense. The increase in professional fees was primarily due to higher consulting fees and external audit fees. The aforementioned unfavorable variance in compensation expense reflects higher pension plan expense that was partially offset by lower expense for associate salaries and performance compensation. Utilization of a lower discount rate in 2012 due to lower long-term bond interest rates drove the aforementioned increase in pension plan expense. Higher software and maintenance costs for newly implemented information systems drove the unfavorable variance in furniture/equipment expense.

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