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KeyBank moving east with First Niagara deal

With its $4.1 billion acquisition of First Niagara Financial Group, Key Corp. is becoming a big player in a banking market that stretches from Toledo to Albany.

Before the deal, Key already had a strong presence in its Ohio markets. The First Niagara deal will strengthen its presence upstate and give the bank a toe-hold in new markets in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, where Key currently doesn’t operate, said Jill Shea, a CreditSuisse analyst.

“We feel these are contiguous, but complementary to our markets,” said Beth Mooney, Key’s chairman and CEO during a conference call Friday. “It does create higher density markets and concentrations in the Northeast and the Midwest,” she said.

The deal will make Key the nation’s 13th biggest commercial bank, with a franchise that also includes a presence in the Western U.S., in six states stretching from Colorado to Washington and Alaska. Key ranks in the top five for branches in Seattle; Denver; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Boise, Idaho.

Its presence in New England and Pennsylania will be modest. First Niagara has a combined 1.6 percent of all deposits in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Shea said. Its biggest New England market is in Connecticut, where it has 3.4 percent of all deposits.