Key Bank Announces Transition Plans With HSBC

May 18, 2012 Updated May 18, 2012 at 4:12 PM EDT

By WKBW News


Key Bank Announces Transition Plans With HSBC

May 18, 2012 Updated May 18, 2012 at 4:12 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. ( Business First by: Allissa Klein ) More than 100 HSBC Bank branches across New York state and Connecticut will be converted this weekend to First Niagara Bank branches.

But another 64 HSBC branches — mostly in Western and Central New York — will continue to operate as usual. That is until they, too, are acquired by other banks later this year.

KeyBank is set to complete its purchase of 37 HSBC branches in Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties on July 13. Bank officials on Friday stressed that none of the to-be-acquired branches will be affected by this weekend’s conversion involving HSBC and First Niagara. Customers will continue to be able to access those branches and use their ATM and debits cards with no interruptions.

“These branches will continue to operate as HSBC branches and convert July 13,” Hugh Donlon, president of Key’s Northeast region, said. “There will not be an interim conversion of these branches from HSBC to First Niagara and then to Key. They will convert directly from HSBC to Key on July 13.”

HSBC announced last summer that it would sell its entire Upstate New York retail network as part of its parent company’s global cutbacks. First Niagara agreed to purchase the 195-branch system for $1 billion in cash. It was later forced by the federal government to sell 37 of those branches to comply with antitrust regulations.

In January, Cleveland-headquartered KeyBank said it would buy the branches — 26 in Western New York and 11 in the Rochester area. It originally planned to close the transaction before June 30, but the date has been pushed back to avoid the July 4th holiday, which falls mid-week this year, the bank said.

Meanwhile, Community Bank of DeWitt, near Syracuse, will pick up 19 HSBC offices and Five Star Bank will purchase eight HSBC offices. Both deals are set to be complete by September 30.

Barb Smith, senior vice president of consumer banking at Key, acknowledged the complexity of the acquisitions, which in turn is causing confusion for some bank customers.

“This is a complicated transaction in a variety of ways, not only the fact that we have multiple parties involved but because this is a branch conversion rather than a whole conversion,” Smith said. “It becomes more of a challenge.”

HSBC customers who bank at branches set to become Key branches have already received one “welcome” letter in the mail and another will be sent next week, Smith said. The bank plans to mail conversion kits beginning June 13.

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