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Running blog: Review First Niagara news conference

Capping a historic and meteoric rise over the last 10 years, First Niagara Financial Group agreed to buy 195 branches of HSBC Bank USA across upstate New York and Connecticut, possibly becoming the No. 1 bank in Western New York and adding thousands of employees and customers.

The company held a news conference today at the Larking Building to address the purchase. Review highlights below or listen to a replay.



11:42 a.m.: First Niagara CEO John R. Koelmel has started the news conference.

11:44 a.m.: "I could not be more proud of how well our organization is growing," Koelmel said.

11:46 a.m.: "Let me come back and take my CEO hat off for the moment and talk about what it means for the region. ... This really is a good news story for New York State and a really good news story for Buffalo and upstate," continued Koelmel.

11:48 a.m.: "To the extent we are required to divest in certain branches, that's good news for the market," said Koelmel.

11:49 a.m.: "What is next for us? We are very focused on this opportunity. ... You can expect more of the same from us ... with an extremely sharp focus on being a better -- albeit bigger -- organization," Koelmel said.

11:50 a.m.: Koelmel has concluded his opening remarks and is answering questions.

11:51 a.m.: "We won't get ahead of ourselves. We know our limitations. ... We're more than ready to tackle this next challenge," Koelmel said.

11:53 a.m.: In response to a question about the company's headquarters, Koelmel said: "We love it here in Larkinville. We are committed to this neighborhood and to make this area even more vibrant."

11:56 a.m.: Responding to a question about competition for purchasing HSBC branches, Koelmel said: "I don't know anything more than you know about who we competed with for this opportunity."

11:58 a.m.: Koelmel said: "It is still 75 or 80 percent or higher ... a dispropionate amount of business that runs through the brick and mortar [as opposed to strictly digital transactions]."

12:00 p.m.: "We will be required to divest a number of branches. ... A meaningful number. ... Our focus is on where we are. ... Our inclincation is to divest us of those branches that do not meet our strategic plans," Koelmel said.

12:03 p.m.: "This is a branch transaction," Koelmel said. "We are only getting a portion of [HSBC's] customers -- this doesn't give us a global presence."

12:05 p.m.: "People will get new checks, new debit cards, etc.," Koelmel said about the transition for customers, otherwise emphasizing the ease of the process.

12:08 p.m.: "We clearly want to sequence this in an orderly fashion so that for the benefit of customers" there are no problems with the transisiton, Koelmel said.

12:09 p.m.: "I have no idea who we outbid; I mean that sincerely," Koelmel said. "We established, as we always do, a price range that we thought made good sense for us. ... We established our terms and conditions a couple months ago. ... We worked within those parameters. In this case, in addition to the dollars we put on the table we assereted ourselves very well with HSBC. ... Trust me, typically it's more than just the check you write. ... They want to be comfortable with the organization that's going to step into their shoes."

12:12 p.m.: "The last thing we are going to do is push a customer to a brick and mortar site that is inconvenient for them," Koelmel said when discussing consolidation.

12:13 p.m.: When asked about the naming rights to HSBC Arena, Koelmel said: "As with the tower, the naming rights weren't part of the transaction. ... To the extent that type of opportunity became available, we would certainly would be happy and willing to have that discussion [with the Sabres]."

12:18 p.m.: The news conference has concluded.

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