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M&T reaches ‘big milestone’ as first full quarter with Hudson City shows rise in income

M&T Bank Corp. finished acquiring Hudson City Bancorp last November and converted Hudson City’s branches and systems to M&T’s two months ago.

Now, the bank has a full quarter of results with Paramus, N.J.-based Hudson City in the fold to evaluate.

“Getting to a point where we’re on one platform and you have one customer experience regardless of where you are, is a big milestone,” said René F. Jones, vice chairman and chief financial officer. “So the team did a great job of getting us there this quarter.”

M&T reported net income of $298.5 million in the first quarter, a 24 percent increase from the year before. It reported diluted earnings per share of $1.73, up by 5 percent from $1.65 a year ago.

Jones said that in years past, M&T would have converted an acquired bank’s branches to its own identity immediately after closing a deal. Now, that process takes longer. For about two months, M&T was essentially running two banks on two sets of systems.

While the integration is now complete, M&T has more work to do, Jones said. M&T continues to add employees such as business bankers in the Hudson City footprint, and is ramping up brand awareness in what had been Hudson City’s territory in New Jersey, downstate New York and part of Connecticut. M&T has been running ads featuring clients from those markets.

“We’ve been getting a lot of feedback to the tone of ‘Wow, you guys are really here,’ ” Jones said. “So that’s been fun.”

M&T already had a network of commercial banking offices operating in New Jersey, but completing the Hudson City deal took its presence to another level, Jones said.

“All of a sudden, it’s almost like the reserves have come in,” he said. “We’ve got 1,000 new employees and 130-some odd branches. It’s really exciting to be able to show in a full force what we’ve been telling them.”

On a Monday conference call about the quarterly results, an analyst asked Jones about whether M&T – the leader in deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region – was benefiting from KeyCorp’s planned deal for First Niagara Financial Group.

Rival banks see such deals as a chance to capitalize on customers’ jumping to other banks. “It’s early, but we have a lot of positive signals,” Jones said.

Jones said M&T does expect to attract more customers. “It will just take a little bit of time to do that,” he said. “Obviously, that transaction hasn’t been completed, and there’s no conversion going on now.”

M&T will hold its annual shareholders meeting Tuesday at its downtown headquarters.