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First Niagara seeks to become bank-holding company

First Niagara seeks to become bank-holding company

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. has applied to the Federal Reserve Board to become a bank-holding company.

As a thrift-holding company regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, First Niagara is only permitted to own and hold thrift institutions. By being a bank-holding company, it can continue to expand with acquisitions of both thrifts and commercial banks, the company (Nasdaq: FNFG) said Friday.

When the conversion is completed, First Niagara will operate under the oversight of the Federal Reserve Board.

Being a bank-holding company will give First Niagara more flexibility in how it completes and executes transactions, bank officials said.

Because of the application with the Federal Reserve, First Niagara has withdrawn its application to the Office of Thrift Supervision for approval of the acquisition of Harleysville National Corp. in suburban Philadelphia, bank officials said.

It is now seeking approval from the Federal Reserve Board. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter, officials said.

The conversion to a bank-holding company will have no impact on First Niagara employees’ day-to-day responsibilities or interactions with customers, bank officials said.

First Niagara ranks 10th in deposit market share in the Rochester region.

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