Shareholders approve First Niagara-KeyCorp deal

Posted at 11:32 AM, Mar 23, 2016

The sale of Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group to Cleveland-based KeyCorp is two steps closer to reality.

Shareholders for both banks overwhelmingly approved the mega-merger Wednesday morning, with collectively more than 90 percent of shareholders voting in favor of the $1.4 billion deal.

The sale still needs the approval of federal regulators.

“We are very pleased that First Niagara shareholders have overwhelmingly demonstrated their support for the merger with KeyCorp.," First Niagara Financial Group CEO Gary Crosby said in a statement. "This is an important step in bringing our two companies together for the benefit of our customers, employees, shareholders and the communities we serve."

“I would like to thank our shareholders for their support and their vote of confidence,” said KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney. "KeyBank and First Niagara are indeed Better Together – a powerful combination that will bring a new level of capabilities and expertise to our clients; new opportunities for our employees; and even greater investment in our communities.”

Several lawmakers, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Congressman Brian Higgins, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have spoken out against the merger, saying it will negatively impact the economy and development in the region for years.

"This move, this acquisition takes away a corporate headquarters in Buffalo and an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 jobs are lost," Higgins has said about the sale. First Niagara has more than 2,000 employees in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

First Niagara has nearly 400 locations in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It has $39 billion in assets and $29 billion in deposits.

With approximately $135 billion of assets, the combined bank would be the 13th largest commercial bank headquartered in the U.S. with three million clients.

The merger is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.