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M&T deal with Fed could help complete Hudson City deal

M&T Bank Corp.’s planned acquisition of Hudson City Bancorp could move closer to reality if M&T’s written agreement with the Federal Reserve for resolving deficiencies in its anti-money laundering procedures proves successful.

M&T’s $3.7 billion deal for New Jersey-based Hudson City has been in limbo as M&T works to address the problem. Shareholders of the two banks have already approved the M&T-Hudson City deal, and the banks previously extended a deadline for which either bank can back out of the deal until Jan. 31, 2014. The deadline was initially Aug. 27 of this year.

M&T spokesman C. Michael Zabel would only say that the agreement was “another step in the process” for M&T to resolve the Fed’s concerns. The agreement lays out what actions M&T will take in the coming months to be in compliance. It does not call for M&T to be fined.

Bob Ramsey, a bank analyst with FBR & Co., said the agreement did not change his belief that the M&T-Hudson City deal will ultimately go through.

“If anything, I wasn’t expecting a written agreement, which indicates that the issue is a big deal, and the road to resolve it may be rockier than I had previously anticipated,” Ramsey said, adding that the market is viewing the agreement as a path toward closing the deal.

M&T’s stock price rose $1.09, or 1.06 percent, to $104.13 on Tuesday. Hudson City shares jumped 20 cents, or 2.39 percent, to $8.57.

The agreement says that within 60 days, M&T will submit to the Federal Reserve a revised Bank Secrecy Act/anti- money-laundering compliance program that describes specific actions it will take, including time lines for completion, to assure the bank is in line with federal laws.

Also within 60 days, M&T will use an independent consultant to review account and transaction activity associated with any “high-risk customer accounts” conducted by or through the bank and subsidiary Wilmington Trust Corp. from July 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2012, to determine whether any “suspicious activity” was properly reported and identified. M&T acquired Wilmington Trust in May 2011.

The agreement also calls for M&T, within 30 days after the end of each quarter, to submit progress reports related to the agreement to the Federal Reserve.

M&T’s president, Mark Czarnecki, has said the Fed’s concerns did not arise from allegations of widespread money laundering or other illegal acts that were not being detected by M&T.

And Robert G. Wilmers, M&T’s chief executive officer and chairman, said in April that M&T had “no knowledge at all that we’ve aided and abetted any money laundering. I guess I did not realize that we should have a much more sophisticated system than we have today, but it’ll be good for the bank to have it.”