First Niagara Says Little About Layoffs

January 26, 2012 Updated Jan 26, 2012 at 7:48 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by Allissa Kline, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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First Niagara Says Little About Layoffs

January 26, 2012 Updated Jan 26, 2012 at 7:48 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( Business First ) An unknown number of retail branch employees at First Niagara Bank are losing their jobs as the Buffalo financial institution looks for ways to become more efficient.

Bank spokesperson David Lanzillo confirmed this week that First Niagara is eliminating jobs at the bank's branches. But he declined to give specific information about the types of jobs being cut, the date of the layoffs and the number and locations of affected employees.

First Niagara (NASDAQ: FNFG) operates more than 330 retail offices in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts and employs 5,000 people throughout its footprint. It is in the midst of completing its most recent acquisition, the $1 billion all-cash purchase of 195 HSBC Bank USA N.A. branches in Upstate New York and Connecticut. The bank plans to sell 64 of those branches to KeyBank N.A., Community Bank System Inc. and Five Star Bank.

Lanzillo would not comment about the possibility of additional job cuts on the horizon at First Niagara. He declined to explain how the bank will restructure its branches with fewer employees.

Instead, he issued the following statement:

"First Niagara continues to be a growing company. As with any well-run business, we always strive to operate effectively and efficiently in serving our customers. That means we continually assess our resources - products, systems, infrastructure and, most importantly, people - to ensure they are optimally aligned across all areas of our business. In this circumstance, we are focusing our branch staffing to enhance our sales and service capabilities and better position our branch teams to serve the needs of our growing customer base. Any actions that impact people are all the more difficult. Retaining talented and committed employees is our top priority. Accordingly, we are working with the affected individuals to assist them in pursuing other opportunities within First Niagara."

The bank held a job fair last week and hopes to offer "nearly all" of the affected employees "new opportunities elsewhere" with the bank, Lanzillo added.

First Niagara is due to report its fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 26. The bank has $31 billion in assets and $19 billion in deposits.

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