Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First Niagara to consolidate offices in Plymouth Meeting

"First Niagara Financial Group Inc., which entered the Philadelphia market last April through the purchase of Harleysville National Corp., said Monday it would consolidate local corporate operations in Plymouth Meeting from five scattered sites.

The move is part of First Niagara's expansion efforts in the region because the new location near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476 provides relatively easy access to Philadelphia and South Jersey, said Bob Kane, the bank's eastern Pennsylvania regional president.

"This is probably the most dynamic region of the all the regions we're involved in," Kane said. First Niagara is based in Buffalo and has 81 branches in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties, from Monroe County, north of Allentown, to Chester County. In all, the bank has 256 branches and $21 billion in assets.

First Niagara also said that late last month in a separate move it had opened an office at 2001 Market St. in Philadelphia, where 25 to 30 commercial bankers will work. Since September, First Niagara has hired five corporate lenders who formerly worked at Wilmington Trust, First Savings Bank of Perkasie, and M&T Bank, Kane said.

The consolidation of 180 people into 63,000 square feet of office space at 401 Plymouth Meeting Road will be completed by June 30, Kane said. "We'll have enough growth there for another 65 slots," he said.

The operations being moved include an insurance brokerage in Broomall and wealth management from Towamencin. The affected operations in Harleysville include commercial lending, credit approval, real estate, human resources, Kane said. Only a few corporate employees in technology and operations will remain in Harleysville, where Harleysville National was based.

Kane said First Niagara plans to get bigger in eastern Pennsylvania, either by building new branches or by making an acquisition. "We are looking at both alternatives," he said."

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