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May 1 seen for closing of delayed M&T deal

Could M&T Bank Corp.’s long-stalled acquisition of Hudson City Bancorp finally be nearing completion?

New Jersey-based Hudson City and M&T are planning for a “possible closing” May 1, Hudson City said in a regulatory filing Monday. But Hudson City noted that the merger is still subject to conditions of their agreement, including regulatory approvals. “Consequently, the closing of the merger may ultimately occur on a different date, or not at all,” Hudson City said.

In its filing, Hudson City told participants in its profit-incentive bonus plan and employee stock-ownership plan of a “blackout period” that is scheduled to begin April 21 and run until the week of May 10, during which transfers and other activities will be restricted.

M&T did not comment on Hudson City’s filing.

The two banks previously set April 30 as the deadline to complete a deal, after which either party could walk away without a financial penalty. The deal was announced in August 2012; since then, the two banks have extended their deadline three times, and both have reiterated their commitment to the merger. In his letter to shareholders in early March, Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers said of the deal that M&T was “dedicated to crossing the finish line – even if it’s a bit farther out than we thought.”

It is still not known whether the Federal Reserve will approve the merger, which has been delayed while M&T bolstered its programs to protect against money laundering and to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act in response to federal regulators’ concerns.

When M&T in 2012 announced plans to acquire Hudson City, the deal was valued at $3.7 billion. As of the end of 2014, M&T valued it at $5.4 billion, due to the subsequent increase in M&T’s share price.