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First Niagara's investment will be good for WNY

We're here to stay, we're here to play and we're here to win.

That's how I ended my opening remarks at this week's press conference on our acquisition of HSBC's 195 upstate New York and Connecticut branches, because when First Niagara wins, so does all of upstate New York. We believe in Buffalo and Western New York. We're investing here to ensure we all win.

We will retain and attract top talent and now leverage even greater resources for the benefit of each of our communities.

We're doubly proud to be making this $1 billion investment in our home state, where we'll be even better positioned to support our legacy footprint by creating even more jobs and by further strengthening our position as a regional corporate leader.

Yes, we expect to sell 25 percent of the acquired branches, some because we will have to, as dictated by the Department of Justice, and some because certain HSBC locations are outside our strategic footprint. But that's a good outcome for the region. There will be more and better competition. And more jobs retained and created by the acquiring institutions.

Yes, in other cities, we will close another 15 percent of the locations -- some of theirs, some of ours -- because they are physically adjacent properties. No business needs two facilities across the street or around the corner from each other. But that's not such a bad outcome either. We are committed to retaining most of the employees in those branches.

Playing to win for us is all about people. We are building a team that has the talent to be a winner for the long run. That's why we are excited to welcome our new teammates from HSBC.

We've already started to meet with them and to begin our work together to ensure we continue to make good things happen for our customers and communities.

First Niagara is one of upstate's most active corporate citizens, providing significant financial and volunteer capital in each of our markets for the benefit of hundreds of not-for-profit organizations and philanthropic endeavors.

We proudly embrace our responsibility to be a strong corporate citizen and are excited to have an even stronger platform from which to lead.

We look forward to welcoming HSBC's customers and pledge to make your transition as smooth and hassle-free as possible. And to First Niagara customers, we greatly value your continuing confidence in us -- we know we need to earn your trust each and every day. And to the upstate region -- and Buffalo and Western New York in particular -- we thank you for your continuing support.

We're proud to be on your team -- and look forward to winning together.


John R. Koelmel is president and chief executive officer of First Niagara Financial Group.

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