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First Niagara’s net income falls 6 percent

First Niagara Financial Group on Friday reported a 6 percent drop in its first-quarter profits, as the bank moved ever closer to being acquired by KeyCorp.

The Buffalo-based bank reported net income of $48.3 million, down from $51.4 million a year earlier. It recorded earnings per diluted share of 11 cents, compared to 12 cents a year earlier.

Key’s planned deal for First Niagara cleared what might have been its last big hurdle on Thursday, when the two banks agreed to sell off 18 First Niagara branches and $1.7 billion in deposits in Erie and Niagara counties to satisfy the Justice Department’s anti-competitive concerns. Pennsylvania-based Northwest Bancshares will buy the 18 branches, and plans to keep all of them open.

Key and First Niagara still need the Federal Reserve’s approval to complete their deal. Key hopes to wrap up the deal in the third quarter.

First Niagara said its first quarter results were impacted by $13 million in pre-tax merger-related and restructuring costs.