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First Niagara executives Barry, Rendulic to be retained by Key

Two executives from First Niagara Financial Group are set to continue their careers with KeyCorp, if Key’s deal for First Niagara goes through.

Richard M. Barry and Mark R. Rendulic would shift into high-ranking roles with Key. Still to be revealed is what Key plans to do with most of the rest of First Niagara’s local workforce.

Barry is executive vice president and chief risk officer for First Niagara. If Key acquires First Niagara – regulators and shareholders need to approve it – Barry would become senior credit and market risk executive, reporting to Key’s chief risk officer. Rendulic, who is First Niagara’s executive vice president of consumer financial services, would become head of business banking for Key.

A regulatory filing last month gave the first indication that Barry and Rendulic would join Key post-acquisition. The filing mentioned the two executives had waived severance payments and benefits they were entitled to in case of a “change in control” at their employer that led to the elimination of their jobs. Instead, they agreed to accept restricted stock unit awards.

The same filing named three other executives entitled to receive “change in control” severance payments and benefits: CEO Gary M. Crosby, Chief Financial Officer Gregory W. Norwood, and Joseph V. Saffire, who is executive vice president of commercial financial services. None of those three waived his right to receive severance payments and other benefits, according to the filing, which could mean they wouldn’t stay on with Key. Jack Sparks, a Key spokesman, declined to comment on their future plans.

The regulatory filing mentioned a third First Niagara executive – who was not among the other five named executive officers – had also waived severance payments and benefits. Sparks declined to identify that person.

Cleveland-based Key’s decisions about Barry and Rendulic provide a glimpse into its plans for First Niagara’s leadership after the acquisition. Key has confirmed two other First Niagara leaders, Kirk Jensen and Craig Stickney, would continue to lead their respective areas. Jensen is First Niagara’s managing director and senior insurance executive at First Niagara Risk Management. Stickney is managing director of dealer finance.

And Key has pledged to maintain First Niagara’s mortgage operations in Buffalo, which is initially expected to cover about 300 jobs.

But Key has not disclosed its plans for the rest of First Niagara’s workforce. First Niagara is headquartered in Larkinville and has about 2,300 jobs in Western New York. Key is expected to eliminate jobs to cut costs and reduce overlap, but it is not yet known to what extent.

Sparks said Key and First Niagara are “carefully working through the integration and it would be premature to discuss employee matters while that process is underway.” The two banks formed integration teams to determine how to bring together comparable areas of the two institutions.

Jodi Johnston, a First Niagara spokeswoman, said she had no new information about other personnel moves.

First Niagara and Key will each hold special shareholders meetings March 23 to determine whether their respective shareholders approve the deal.

Key is also expected to divest some branches to satisfy the Justice Department’s anti-competitive concerns, but no such decisions have been announced. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment Tuesday on the process.

Barry joined First Niagara in late 2011 from Citizens Financial Group and was named chief risk officer in 2012.

Rendulic joined First Niagara in 2009, and his duties have expanded over time. He now leads retail banking, private client services, wealth management, direct consumer lending, First Niagara Investment Services, small business banking and residential mortgage operations, along with corporate marketing.

Norwood, the CFO, was hired by First Niagara in 2011. Saffire, a local native, came to First Niagara two years ago, after working for Wells Fargo in London and, before that, HSBC Bank.

Crosby could be a candidate for Key’s board. He is the only local resident on First Niagara’s board, and has served as the bank’s CEO – on an interim and then permanent basis – for three years. Key has pledged to add three First Niagara board members to its own board.