Crosby appointed First Niagara CEO

December 19, 2013 Updated Dec 19, 2013 at 9:39 PM EDT

By Business First

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Crosby appointed First Niagara CEO

December 19, 2013 Updated Dec 19, 2013 at 9:39 PM EDT

Gary Crosby, who has served as interim president and chief executive officer of First Niagara Financial Group Inc. since last March, now has that title fully.

The board of trustees at the Buffalo-based company (NASDAQ: FNFG), parent of First Niagara Bank, made the announcement Thursday.

The 60-year old Crosby, a graduate of Canisius College, was named to the interim post following the removal of John Koelmel by First Niagara's board of directors on March 19. A three-person search committee was put in place and an executive search firm was brought on board to help identify potential candidates.

In a statement, First Niagara said Crosby was chosen after an extensive internal and external search, which the board conducted in partnership with the firm of Korn/Ferry International, a national executive search firm.

"Gary's wide range of experience, his relationships inside and outside the company, and his demonstrated ability to deliver solid operating results make him the best person for the position," Chairman of the Board G. Thomas Bowers, said. "Following a comprehensive search for an executive with strong organizational and operational experience, who can extract value from the outstanding franchise we've assembled, we concluded Gary has the right combination of these attributes. As shareholders and directors, we believe First Niagara has opportunities as a leading independent banking organization to continue to drive operational excellence and organic growth in the communities we serve. The Board unanimously agreed that Gary is the right individual to lead the company to leverage these opportunities and deliver long-term shareholder value."

Crosby joined First Niagara in 2009 from the Buffalo City School District as executive vice president and chief administrative and operating officer.

"The First Niagara team has made significant progress delivering on its commitments by remaining focused on the basics of banking and by continuing to enhance our ability to help our customers do great things every day," said Crosby. "I am confident that we can improve our business model and deliver a truly differentiated customer experience by leveraging the talent we have assembled and making the right investments in new talent, technology, products and services to drive value for all of our stakeholders."

First Niagara counts approximately 420 branches, $37 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

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