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M&T’s deal for Hudson City was ‘most challenging,’ Wilmers says

M&T Bank Corp.’s drawn-out deal to acquire Hudson City Bancorp “was our most challenging” and “tested both our patience and our mettle,” M&T Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers said in a speech Thursday.

Wilmers spoke at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in Charlottesville, Va., as part of the school’s Leadership Speakers Series. The Buffalo-based bank provided a copy of his prepared remarks.

In 2012, M&T announced a $3.7 billion deal for New Jersey-based Hudson City but faced lengthy delays in approval by regulators as M&T upgraded its compliance systems. The two banks finally completed their deal, now valued at $5.3 billion, on Nov. 1, after regulators gave their blessing in late September.

Wilmers noted that M&T has completed 24 acquisitions in the last 28 years. In the case of Hudson City, Wilmers said M&T stayed with it because the bank believed that the opportunity to combine its own small-business and commercial products and services with Hudson City’s 135 branches “in a highly desirable market was a powerful one – one worth doggedly pursuing.”

M&T picked up $17.9 billion in deposits and added more than 1,100 employees, after cutting 366 jobs at Hudson City.

Wilmers also spoke about M&T’s recruiting efforts. The bank has more than 16,000 employees across its territory.

The bank sometimes interviews dozens of candidates for a single position, and will occasionally invent a position “for someone who may not have fit the listed qualifications, but was just too good to pass up,” he said.

M&T has two college recruitment programs: the Executive Associate program, for freshly minted MBAs, and the Management Development Program, for recent college graduates.

Through the Executive Associate program, launched in 1984, M&T has hired 572 people, Wilmers said. Of that total, 240 of them, or 42 percent, are still with M&T, including René F. Jones, chief financial officer, and Richard S. Gold, vice chairman and chief risk officer.

Through the MDP program, started in 1983, M&T has hired 1,287 employees, Wilmers said. Of that, 546 of them, or 42 percent, are still at M&T, and 44 of them are now senior managers.