First Niagara and KeyCorp Announce Shareholder Approval of Merger


First Niagara Financial Group(NASDAQ:FNFG) and KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) announced on Wednesday that each company’s shareholders voted in favor of the merger between the two companies.

Shareholders approved the merger during special meetings held today in Buffalo, NY by First Niagara and Cleveland, OHby KeyCorp. Out of the votes cast at each of the special meetings, over 90 percent were in favor of the merger.

“We are very pleased that First Niagara shareholders have overwhelmingly demonstrated their support for the merger with KeyCorp. This is an important step in bringing our two companies together for the benefit of our customers, employees, shareholders and the communities we serve,” said Gary M. Crosby, Chief Executive Officer, First Niagara Financial Group.

“I would like to thank our shareholders for their support and their vote of confidence,” said Beth Mooney, Chairman and CEO, KeyCorp. “KeyBank and First Niagara are indeed Better Together – a powerful combination that will bring a new level of capabilities and expertise to our clients; new opportunities for our employees; and even greater investment in our communities. Our integration efforts are on track, and we remain both confident in and committed to achieving the financial and growth targets of the First Niagara acquisition.”

KeyCorp and First Niagara entered into a merger agreement on October 30, 2015. Today’s affirmative votes by shareholders of both companies allow the proposed merger to continue to move forward. The merger agreement is still subject to regulatory approvals. Closing of the merger is anticipated during the third quarter of 2016.

KeyCorp and First Niagara Financial Group have taken a major step toward the combining of the two companies. Shareholders for both banks voted in favor of the merger during meetings Wednesday morning.

Before KeyBank can officially make the purchase, federal regulators still need to approve it. New York politicians including Congressman Brian Higgins and Governor Andrew Cuomo have opposed the deal saying it violates federal anti-trust standards.

“The shareholders actions today represent one step in a complex process.  Our focus remains on the impact to the local community and on local jobs,” Higgins said.

While regulators will deal with whether the merger gives the bank an unfair monopoly in Upstate New York, elected leaders on the western side of the state remain worried about the potential loss of thousands of jobs.

KeyCorp has attempted to assuage some of those concerns, recently announcing a community wide redevelopment plan in Western New York including plans to build a new bank on Buffalo’s underserved East Side neighborhood. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he met with representatives from the company several weeks ago about their plans for the area.
“I was kind of underwhelmed. It didn’t blow me out of the water. It didn’t immediately make me a supporter of this transaction because I know in the long run it will result in major job loss for our area.”

(Part of this story was originally published by NY State of Politics)

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