First Niagara Financial Group has extended job offers to just over 100 of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank's 224 employees so far, but expects to make more offers in coming weeks, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
The Lockport-based banking company issued its first round of job offers on Oct. 18, giving those employees until the end of last week to accept or decline the offers.
Additional jobs have been offered since the first offers were made, based on new opportunities, attrition, and the outcome of the first round of offers, said spokeswoman Leslie Garrity. First Niagara has already filled a few open positions with former Greater Buffalo employees, she added.
"There are many moving parts to this," Garrity said. "But what does remain constant is we are committed on both sides to minimize the people impact between now and when the deal closes in February."
First Niagara said on Sept. 10 that it would pay $153 million in cash and stocks, or $14 a share, to buy Great Lakes Bancorp, the parent of Greater Buffalo. The deal gives it $903 million in assets, and $644 million in deposits, as well as 16 branches in three counties. And First Niagara gains the stronger presence in Buffalo that it has desired, as it will be right behind No. 3 KeyCorp.
However, to make the deal work with the overlap, officials plan to cut 70 percent of Greater Buffalo's expenses, including by consolidating and closing six of the smaller bank's branches and three of its own with other locations. It also plans to close the back-office facility at Greater Buffalo's headquarters at Main Street and Jewett Parkway in Buffalo, the renovation of which had cost the smaller bank more than $3 million dollars.
It had not disclosed how many job cuts and layoffs it expects, but observers widely expected the numbers to be high, since First Niagara already has the back-office operations and only needs staff for a handful of branches.
Still, John R. Koelmel, chief executive officer of First Niagara, said Wednesday during a presentation to the CFA Society of Buffalo that the bank was extending offers to more people than it needed for the branches because it wanted to retain talent.
Garrity said it's still too soon to know the final count of how many people will lose their jobs, but stressed that officials are seeking to minimize the harm. Besides retaining an outplacement firm to help affected workers find jobs, executives of the two banks are actively reaching out to other businesses in the area to encourage them to hire displaced employees.
She said the other businesses have been receptive, but she wasn't sure whether anyone had been hired yet.
"People are upset about losing their jobs, but we are working really hard to reduce the people impact as much as possible," she said. "Businesses in this area are always looking for well-qualified candidates. A lot can happen between now and February."