A lot of the banks actively unloading problem loans share a telling characteristic — ownership by big private equity groups or hedge funds.

Backing from deep-pocketed investors has helped Sun Bancorp Inc. in Vineland N.J., Sterling Financial Corp. of Spokane, Wash., United Community Banks Inc. of Blairsville, Ga., and other community banks speed up the costly process of eliminating loans to businesses and consumers that cannot repay them.

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