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Buffalo banks keep getting bigger

   Breaking today:
- M&T buying Wilmington Trust, largest bank in Delaware - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   M&T Bank Corp., moving to bolster its position in its mid-Atlantic market, agreed this morning to buy M&ttower Wilmington Trust Corp., the largest bank in Delaware, in a deeply-discounted stock deal worth $351 million. ...
   Wilmington Trust's stock had lost more than three-quarters of its value over the last three years as the Wilmington, Del.-based bank reported six straight quarterly losses, including a $370 million third-quarter loss today.
   Wilmington Trust's losses stemmed from bad commercial real estate loans and investments in pools of trust-preferred securities. The bank had been contacting bigger lenders in recent weeks to gauge their interest in an acquisition, Bloomberg News reported late last month. ...

   What it looks like from the other side:
Wilmington Trust sold to M&T Bank - Eric Ruth/The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.
   An era that helped shape the state’s economic identity and leverage its success for over a century ended today as Wilmington Trust bank yielded to financial pressures and agreed to be bought by M&T Bank Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y.
   Long vowing to remain independent, the fiercely proud institution had been struggling to recover from a stock slide and balance-sheet bruising that began when the regional real estate market faltered and several multi-million-dollar loans to developers went bad.
   In the end, a 4-year-long fall in share prices and six straight quarters of losses simply made the bank too weak and too short on cash to avoid seeking a suitor. Today’s deal, a stock transaction valued at approximately $351 million, is expected to close by mid-year 2011.

   And from outside:
- M&T To Acquire Ailing Wilmington Trust - Wall Street Journal
   ... Wilmington Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald Foley said his company has "two very strong fee-based businesses that continue to perform well. However, as our third-quarter earnings announcement shows, we continue to face difficult financial realities associated with the credit quality of the loan portfolio in our banking business." ...
   Mr. Foley admitted, "There is no significant economic or real estate recovery on the horizon in our markets. ..."
Wilmington Trust agrees to be bought by M&T for $351 million - Bloomberg/Washington Post
   Wilmington Trust Corp., the Delaware bank founded [107 years ago] by the du Pont family and undermined by souring loans, agreed to sell itself to M&T Bank Corp. for $351 million in stock, or about half its market value last week.
- M&T Bank snaps up bargain-priced Wilmington - Reuters
- M&T Bank announces take-under of Wilmington Trust -
- Wilmington Trust sold cheap to NY's M&T - Philadelphia Inquirer 

First Niagara buys Philadelphia insurance and benefits company - David Robinson
   First Niagara Financial Group is moving into the eastern Pennsylvania insurance market with the acquisition of a Philadelphia-based insurer and employee benefits consulting business, the Buffalo-based bank said today.
   First Niagara, through its First Niagara Risk Management business, has acquired Summit Insurance Group and Summit Benefits in a deal that will push it into the eastern Pennsylvania business and personal insurance market. ...

   Meanwhile, back in Business Today, things that banks do that affect people who aren't bankers:

Small-business loans ascend -  Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   Small-business owners across the country have complained that the recession spooked banks into overly tight lending standards, making it almost impossible to finance growth.
   But under an enhanced Small Business Administration program, many Western New York firms have found a lending source.
   Partners Packaging, a industrial packaging supplier in North Tonawanda that does more than $1 million in sales, needed money for cash flow and to buy new equipment. ... So it developed a business plan with the Small Business Development Center at Niagara County Community College and obtained $200,000 from M&T Bank in July, including an operating loan, an equipment loan and a line of credit. ...

   M&T Bank? That's where we came in.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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