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First Niagara Receives Regulatory Approval To Become Commercial Bank

First Niagara Financial Group has received approvals from Federal banking regulators for conversion of its wholly owned subsidiary First Niagara Bank to a national bank as well as its acquisition of Harleysville National.

The Federal Reserve Board approved First Niagara’s application to register as a bank holding company, while the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) approved the conversion of First Niagara Bank from a savings institution to a national bank. The charter conversion applications were submitted to the regulators in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The approvals from the Federal Reserve Board and the OCC also pave the way for completion of the acquisition and conversion of all 83 of Harleysville’s branch locations in Southeastern Pennsylvania into First Niagara Bank branches as of the close of business on April 9, 2010. These branches will reopen as First Niagara Bank branches on April 12, 2010.

Upon completion of the acquisition, First Niagara Bank will have $19.3bn in assets, 254 branches and $13.9bn in deposits closing of its acquisition of Harleysville National.

John Koelmel, president and CEO of First Niagara Financial Group, said: “These regulatory approvals are an important next step in the evolution of First Niagara, better aligning our commercial bank business model with our regulatory oversight. They also give us greater flexibility in executing both our in market and acquisition growth strategies.”