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Jonathan D. Epstein

Jonathan Epstein is a business reporter at The Buffalo News, where he covers commercial and residential real estate and development. He has worked at The News since 2004.


Greater Buffalo Savings Bank is considering getting into the sale of insurance and health savings accounts, but is delaying any action until after it completes a pending merger with a California company, executives said.The Buffalo-based thrift has been approached by "a number of people" about setting up a joint venture to sell insurance products, but has not had more than…

Time has run out for Waterford Village Bank -- for now.Organizers of the proposed new bank in Clarence were unable to raise enough capital to open the doors before the state's temporary authorization from regulators expired Feb. 12, according to the bank and state regulators. The group came up about $2 million short of its goal.As a result, according to the state Banking D…

Efforts by regulators and other investigators to combat auto insurance fraud -- including a major bust in Buffalo -- have paid off, as the New York State Insurance Department last year recorded its lowest level of "no-fault" fraud reports since 2000.State insurance regulators last year received 17,124 reports of auto insurance fraud, mostly resulting from New York's "no-fa…

HSBC USA, the immediate legal parent of HSBC Bank USA, said fourth-quarter profits fell 27 percent, driven entirely by the accounting costs of transferring credit card loans and customers with an affiliate company.The bank reported earnings of $196 million, down from $269 million a year ago. For the year, profits similarly fell 22 percent to $976 million from $1.26 billion…

A Niagara Falls mortgage broker in the midst of expanding to the New York City area has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the state and refund nearly $15,000 to consumers for making loans on Long Island without regulatory permission.Daniel W. Vecchies, owner of The Money Place LLC on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, reached the settlement with the New York Banking Department …

HealthNow New York is pulling out of some of the health insurance business in the Rochester and Syracuse markets, after failing to garner enough market share in five years to make the effort profitable.In its third major change in recent weeks, the Buffalo-based health insurer said Tuesday that it will stop seeking new clients in Central New York for its commercial HMO, pr…

Federal regulators have given the first thumbs-up to the planned merger of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank with a California firm that is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.Bay View Capital Corp. of San Mateo, Calif., agreed in October to acquire Greater Buffalo in a $67.1 million deal that would effectively leave the savings bank intact and its management in charge. Under…

HealthNow New York said Monday it is withdrawing from the government Medicaid managed care, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus programs in Northeastern New York at the end of April.The decision by the Buffalo-based company, parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, will affect about 12,600 members in 18 counties currently served under HealthNow and Blue S…

First Niagara Financial Group is setting up "regional market centers" in all of its geographic markets to unite key sales groups, with one of the first taking over an entire floor in downtown Buffalo's Larkin at Exchange Building.Several of the savings bank's key sales groups, including insurance and leasing, and about 200 employees will be moved to downtown Buffalo by ear…

HealthNow New York is offering early retirement incentives, freezing nonessential hiring, tightening benefits and scrutinizing vendor contracts in a bid to lower its operating costs and be more competitive.The Buffalo-based parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York said it is trying to reduce the size of its work force and otherwise trim expenses in anticipation…

Wells Fargo & Co., the nation's fifth-largest bank, has opened a commercial lending office in Amherst in the latest effort by an out-of-region bank to break into the local business banking market.Wells' new regional commercial banking office will serve the financial needs of so-called "middle-market companies" -- those with at least $10 million in annual revenues.Besides m…

M&T Bank Corp. said it has acquired an insurance agency outside of Washington, D.C., expanding its insurance business into its faster-growing southern markets of Maryland and Pennsylvania.M&T Insurance Agency, a full-service commercial property and casualty subsidiary of M&T Bank, paid an undisclosed price for Hess Egan Hagerty & L'Hommedieu, a commercial insurance and sur…

When Canadian-owned printing firm Ashton-Potter North America set up shop in Amherst in 1992, executives wanted to print U.S. postage stamps.The federal government had begun a privatization effort that initially had more than 15 printing shops. Today there are just three private stamp printers nationwide -- including Ashton-Potter -- doing the work once done only by t…

Banking continues to be a solid growth industry in Western New York, as smaller community banks rapidly open more offices in new areas while their giant competitors duke it out for market share with enhanced products and services.M&T Bank Corp. and HSBC Bank USA are already the dominant players locally, controlling more than 60 percent of deposits, with more than 120 br…

As health insurance becomes another commodity bought on price, Western New York's three insurers are battling to set themselves apart through innovations in service and quality.Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, Independent Health Association and Univera Healthcare are still coming out with new health plans and other products to benefit members and employers. They…