First Niagara said to be exploring sale

TD Bank, run locally by Chris Giamo, is said to be a possible suitor for Buffalo's First Niagara.

Buffalo’s First Niagara Financial Group Inc. is exploring a sale of the firm to suitors that include New York Community Bancorp, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Huntington Bancshares, according to DealReporter.

According to the news site’s sources, First Niagara has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to advise on a possible sale or other strategic moves. FN has a market value of about $3.18 billion, based on the number of shares outstanding at the end of the second quarter. The company has nearly 400 branches in New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was the worst-performer in the KBW Bank Index last year before it was removed from the 24-company listing.

First Niagara has struggled with rising costs, including an increase in reserves to address what it called a “process issue” that affected some deposit accounts, and has said that expenses would climb as it spends money to improve technology systems.

Dave Lanzillo, a First Niagara spokesman, said the bank doesn’t “comment on rumors.” JPMorgan’s Tasha Pelio declined to comment, DealReporter said.

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