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Regions Financial Corp. repays $3.5b to rescue fund

WASHINGTON -Regions Financial Corp. repaid a $3.5 billion taxpayer bailout, the largest debt still outstanding to the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, after the bank sold assets to boost capital.

The lender, the 10th-largest in the United States, bought back preferred stock to exit the rescue fund, the Birmingham, Ala.-based company said Wednesday in a statement. It has paid $593 million in dividends to taxpayers since receiving the bailout in November 2008, the company said.

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TARP was created under President George W. Bush to prop up the nation’s financial system during the 2008 crisis. Regions was the biggest recipient of aid among the 350 banks left in the $700 billion bailout program, followed by Zions Bancorporation, which disclosed plans to exit TARP last month. The remaining lenders owe taxpayers about $12 billion.

“This repayment is another milestone in our efforts to wind down TARP and provides an additional profit for taxpayers on the program’s investment in banks,’’ Timothy Massad, assistant secretary for financial stability at Treasury, said in a statement.

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