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Northwest expects $17 million gain from selling Maryland branches

Northwest Bank's parent company expects to record a $17 million gain on the sale of its three Maryland branches, when the deal closes in the second quarter.

It's the latest bit of news for Pennsylvania-based Northwest Bancshares, which has made itself a lot more visible in the Buffalo Niagara region in the past few months.

In selling its three Baltimore-area branches to Shore United Bank, Northwest decided to focus attention on its operations in Pennsylvania, New York State and Ohio.

In recent months, Northwest converted 18 First Niagara Bank branches to its own brand and opened a new-format branch in Orchard Park, while closing a location in Hamburg.

Fueled in part by the First Niagara branch acquisitions in September, Northwest's net income in the fourth quarter rose 51 percent from the same period a year ago, to $24.5 million.

The bank has climbed to No. 4 in deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region, and has more plans in development. The bank is preparing to open a New York regional headquarters in Amherst at mid-year, with 100 jobs, 70 of which would be new positions. Plus, the bank might open two additional branches in the region, at locations that closed following KeyCorp's deal for First Niagara.

Northwest's full-year net income declined 18 percent from 2015, to $50 million.The bank attributed the drop in part to expenses stemming from its 2015 acquisition of LNB Bancorp in Ohio.





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