GREENSBORO, N.C., April 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NewBridge Bancorp (Nasdaq:NBBC) today reported a sharp increase in earnings for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 over the quarter ended March 31, 2012. Net income available to common shareholders totaled $4.0 million, compared to $781,000 reported in the first quarter of 2012. Earnings per diluted common share were $0.13, an increase of 160% over the same quarter last year. "Our first quarter results are highlighted by substantially improved earnings, significantly enhanced asset quality, core organic loan growth and a stronger capital position," said Pressley A. Ridgill, President and Chief Executive Officer of NewBridge. "Each of these accomplishments was achieved due to critical strategic events in 2012. We concluded our asset disposition plan, which resulted in a $106 million reduction of adversely classified assets in 2012 and the reduction of our classified asset percentage from 77.6% at December 31, 2011 to 30.5% at year end. The percentage at March 31, 2013 continued to decline to 26.6%. The successful execution of this plan means that our core earnings are no longer burdened with high chargeoffs and other credit related costs. We also achieved the closing of a private offering of $56 million in new preferred equity, which was converted to common equity in February 2013. This enhanced capital provides us the necessary strength to pursue other strategic options. Finally, with the reduction of the classified asset burden and our added capital strength, we intensified our focus on solid, quality loan growth. We invested in experienced commercial banking teams in Charlotte and Raleigh, the two largest banking markets in North Carolina. We also expanded lending activities within our legacy branch footprint. In the first quarter, loans held for investment increased $14.5 million, an annualized loan growth rate of 5%. Core retained loans increased $72 million over the last twelve months. A large portion of this growth came from our Charlotte and Raleigh market teams."