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ACQUISITION TO MAKE M&T BANKING POWERHOUSE

First Empire State Corp. this afternoon said it is acquiring Syracuse-based Onbancorp in an $872 million cash and stock deal that will make the Buffalo-based parent of M&T Bank the largest deposit holder in upstate New York.

The deal, scheduled to close within five months, will result in roughly 200 new jobs for the Buffalo market and mark First Empire's first retail branch foray outside the Empire State. Onbancorp subsidiary Franklin First Savings Bank is headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The bank's total branch network will swell to 255 from the current 178.

Under the terms of the merger -- by far the largest in First Empire's history -- Onbancorp shareholders will have the option of receiving 0.161 shares of First Empire stock, worth roughly $68.26, or $69.50 in cash for each Onbancorp common share.

The combined bank will be a powerhouse across New York State -- with little overlap. Consider:

M&T operates roughly 79 branches in the Buffalo area and holds 36 percent of bank deposits. Onbancorp's local presence had been a single Williamsville loan office, which has closed.

The combined bank becomes Rochester's third-largest bank based on deposit market share with 14 percent of deposits and 46 branches.

M&T, under which Onbancorp's OnBank & Trust Co. and Franklin First branches will operate, immediately becomes the No. 1 bank in Syracuse, with a 30 percent share of deposits and 40 branches.

M&T's Albany and Hudson Valley network swells to 38 branches. Importantly, M&T's Albany presence goes from zero to 11 offices.

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