First Niagara Bank was a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured regional banking corporation headquartered in Buffalo, New York. Its parent company, First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. was the 44th-largest bank in the United States with assets of over $37.1 billion as of June 30, 2013.
It was founded in 1870 as Farmers and Mechanics’ Savings Bank and was then re-branded as Lockport Savings Bank in 1967. In 2000 the bank was rebranded as First Niagara. The bank was based in its former home county, Niagara until the 1990s when it spread to nearby Buffalo, New York and its surrounding Erie County.
Part of this growth could be attributed to the collapse of the Buffalo-centric banks Goldome and Empire of America. Most of this growth was from the recruitment of new customers, as opposed to the purchase of other firms’ assets. Although, in 1998 the bank did purchase the regional insurance brokerage firm Warren-Hoffman & Associates Inc. as a means of entering the insurance business. First Niagara, in 2000, acquired Albion Bancorp of Albion, NY to bring the total number of bank branches to 22.
In 2002, First Niagara acquired Cayuga Bank of Auburn, New York and Cortland Savings Bank in Cortland, New York. In 2003, First Niagara acquired the Bank of Finger Lakes in Geneva, New York. In 2004, First Niagara acquired Troy Savings Bank in Albany, New York. In 2005, First Niagara acquired Hudson River Bank and Trust in Hudson, New York.
First Niagara’s former headquarters located in the LCo Building, Buffalo.
In September 2007, it was announced that First Niagara was to purchase Great Lakes Bancorp, parent company of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank. The price to purchase the 16 branch bank was $153 million. With the nearly $900 million of assets of the Great Lakes Bancorp, First Niagara became the fourth largest bank in the Buffalo-Niagara region.
In April 2009, First Niagara acquired 57 of the 61 of National City branches in Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were re-branded on Labor Day weekend in 2009. In conjunction with the expansion into Pittsburgh, First Niagara bought the naming rights for a concert venue, First Niagara Pavilion.
In April 2010, First Niagara Financial Group acquired Pennsylvania-based Harleysville National. This created a bank with $19.7 billion in assets, 254 branches and approximately $13.7 billion in deposits.
In August 2010, First Niagara announced its acquisition of NewAlliance Bank of Connecticut. The stock holders approved the merger in December 2010 and the transaction closed on April 15, 2011. This provided First Niagara with over 340 branches and 500 ATMs.
On August 25, 2011, First Niagara bought the naming rights for HSBC Arena in Buffalo, renaming it the First Niagara Center.
On October 30, 2015, First Niagara Bank agreed to be acquired by KeyCorp. 18 branches in Erie and Niagara Counties will be sold to Northwest Savings Bank for antitrust reasons.
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Last Updated on June 7, 2022