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February 18, 2012

First Niagara to complete HSBC deal by May

First Niagara said it expects to complete its purchase of HSBC branches by May 18, doubling the size of the bank’s branch network in the state to 200 locations and adding 1,200 employees.

The bank also said next week HSBC customers will start receiving regular written updates regarding how their accounts will transition to First Niagara. Then, in mid-April customers will receive a customized package of information with specific details about their new accounts.

No changes will take place to any customer accounts prior to May 18. First Niagara said it continues to collaborate with HSBC to ensure all of its new customers and employees benefit from a smooth and successful transition.

And what will help the transition is the HSBC employees who are joining the company, said Mark Rendulic, First Niagara’s executive vice president of retail banking.

“Most importantly, while the name on the branches will change to First Niagara, customers can expect to see the same friendly faces and will receive the same outstanding service,” Rendulic said. “We are thrilled to have so many talented HSBC employees joining our team. They have a proven track record of delivering for their customers and they well understand the needs of the communities and customers they serve.”

First Niagara announced in July it was buying 195 HSBC branches for $1 billion. The bank sold 64 of those branches to KeyBank, Community Bank System and Five Star Bank. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval.

When the HSBC acquisition is completed, First Niagara will have nearly 430 retail locations, $30 billion in total deposits, $38 billion in assets and more than 6,000 employees across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Due to the close proximity of a number of the HSBC branches being acquired, First Niagara identified 35 locations that will be consolidated with a nearby facility, most within a mile of each other. In order to ensure a smooth customer experience, all consolidations will take place over several months.

Locally, none of the First Niagara or HSBC branches in Eastern Niagara County have been tagged for consolidation. But the HSBC branch at 4 Main St. in Tonawanda will be merged with the First Niagara location at 100 River Road in North Tonawanda, just under three-tenths of a mile away.

The Grand Island Boulevard First Niagara branch will be consolidated with the HSBC branch located on the same street in Grand Island. The First Niagara location on Crosspoint Parkway in Amherst will join the 665 North French HSBC branch, roughly 2.5 miles away.

Three branches in Buffalo will be affected. The HSBC branch at 135 Delaware Ave. will consolidate with the First Niagara branch at 47 Court St., located a little more than a tenth of a mile away. The First Niagara branches at 50 Fountain Plaza and 1776 Sheridan Drive will consolidate with the HSBC branches at 14 Lafayette Square and 1690 Sheridan Drive, respectively.

Existing First Niagara locations to be consolidated will be closed simultaneous with the May 18 completion of the transaction, the bank said. Most HSBC locations that will ultimately be closed will continue to operate for a month, or in some cases longer, beyond the completion of the transaction to better ensure a smooth transition for customers. No action is required on the part of HSBC or First Niagara customers, all of whom will receive notification in advance of any transition.

First Niagara customers with any questions about the transition of their accounts are encouraged by the bank to stop by any First Niagara branch and ask to speak to a manager during business hours, or call the bank’s Customer Contact Center at 1-800-421-0004 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends.

HSBC customers with any questions about the transition of their accounts are encouraged to stop by their HSBC branch and ask to speak to a manager during business hours, or call HSBC Customer Service at 1-800-975-4722.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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