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Northwest nearly finished with executive search

Northwest Bancshares has nearly wrapped up its search for a new member of its executive team.

The Warren, Pa.-based bank, which has built a larger presence in the Buffalo Niagara region, is preparing to name someone to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer. The current president, William J. Wagner, will remain chairman and CEO once the new person is in place.

"We're getting fairly close at this point to an announcement," Wagner said, estimating that it might come within a month.

"We had a lot of interest in the position," he said. "I think anybody that's looking for that level of position found it to be very attractive because of the state of the bank, because of the markets we serve, the quality of our management team."

Northwest in July disclosed the search for the new executive, citing the growth in the bank's size and complexity. At the time, Northwest estimated the process could take four to six months, and said internal and external candidates would be considered.

The bank is headquartered in a small city of about 10,000 people. But Wagner said when it came to attracting candidates for the job, that fact "wasn't as much of a drawback as people thought it would be."

Northwest on Monday reported third quarter net income of $23.6 million, compared to $14.2 million a year ago. Northwest bought 18 First Niagara branches near the end of the July-through-September period in 2016, which fueled the growth in profits.

Northwest now ranks No. 4 in deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region, according to recent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. Companywide, it has 164 full-service offices spread across three states and $9.5 billion in assets.

Last summer, Northwest opened an administrative center in Amherst that is expected to grow to 100 employees. And last March, Northwest announced a community benefits plan that calls for $102 million in loans and investments to low- to moderate-income borrowers and communities in the region.

William J. Wagner, chairman, president and CEO of Northwest Bancshares. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

In late December, Northwest will close a branch at the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence and convert a branch at 275 Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda to staffed, drive-up only service, as it aims to cut down on branch overlap stemming from the First Niagara deal.


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