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First Niagara, now Connecticut

   The big business news made it's way to P.1 today -- too much for Business Today to contain.

- First Niagara poised to join top 25 of U.S. banks, thrifts - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   First Niagara Financial Group shows no sign of losing its appetite for acquisitions.
   The Buffalo-based banking company said Thursday it had agreed to acquire Connecticut-based Newhaven NewAlliance Bancshares in a deal valued at $1.5 billion. The combination is expected to propel First Niagara to No. 25 among publicly traded U.S.-based banks and thrifts, and create more jobs in Western New York.
   First Niagara has made a series of acquisitions in the past decade, while bolstering its local employment and relocating its headquarters to Buffalo's Larkin at Exchange Building.
   The latest deal raises the expansion-minded company's profile as it extends its reach into New England. ... Bloomberg News said the deal was the biggest merger of U.S. lenders since October 2008. ...
   NewAlliance's 88 branches will be rebranded as First Niagara. And NewAlliance's headquarters in New Haven, Conn., is scheduled to become First Niagara's New England Regional Market Center.

   In New Haven, though, the reaction is "Not so fast, there, pilgrim."
New Alliance falls to Niagara - Angela Carter/The New Haven Register
   NewAlliance Bancshares Inc. met with a backlash Thursday when it announced plans to sell NewAlliance Bank to First Niagara Financial Group Inc., based in Buffalo, N.Y.
   “Right now, what I plan to do is ask a lot of questions about how this benefits job creation and how this benefits the economy of New Haven and Connecticut,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said. “I expect this new bank will get purchased in five years by another bank.”
   State Attorney Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, said the merger raises significant questions and concerns about “potentially far-reaching” ramifications on bank customers, employees, the New Haven community and the economy.”
   “My office will work cooperatively with other local and state authorities to look into any concerns, and the potential legal implications of this acquisition,” he said.
   [Gotta love that headline.]
City decries NewAlliance 'betrayal' - Paul Bass/The New Haven Independent
   DeStefano Thursday afternoon wouldn’t say yet whether he planned to try to block the planned merger when it comes before federal regulators. He and local labor leaders staged a fight six years ago against a previous merger that created NewAlliance Bank, and won tens of millions of dollars in concessions in the process.

  Other takes:
- First Niagara To Acquire NewAlliance For $1.5B  - Dow Jones Newswires/The Wall Street Journal
   Serial acquirer First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (FNFG) said it would buy NewAlliance Bancshares Inc. (NAL) for some $1.5 billion, the first in what many bankers believe will be an eventual wave of deals in the banking industry.
   The deal marks the first sizable merger of two healthy banks since the financial crisis, rather than an acquisition of a troubled institution by a strong bank. In comments after the deal's announcement, the two banks' chief executives said they wanted the merger to be understood as a pre-emptive strike in a banking environment that is changing in the aftermath of the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul bill.
   ["Serial acquirer"? Is that good?]
First Niagara to Acquire Rival Bank for $1.5 Billion - Eric Dash/The New York Times
  The First Niagara Financial Group said Thursday that it had agreed to buy NewAlliance Bancshares for $1.5 billion in cash and stock, catapulting First Niagara into the ranks of the nation’s 25 largest banks and providing tentative hope that a long-expected wave of industry consolidation might follow.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Acting locally: Beer and sports

   Is is just me, or are stories about beer getting to be a pattern here? And, of course, what goes with beer [apart from more beer]? Sports!

- Brothers to convert Cold Storage building into Wilson brewery -  Teresa Sharp/The Buffalo News
   WILSON — Good news is brewing in the village, with the planned conversion of the long-vacant, century-old Cold Storage building on Lake Street into the community’s first microbrewery.
   The property at 638 Lake St. recently was purchased by a local family, and sights have been set on opening the Woodcock Brothers Brewing Co. by next summer.
   Mark Woodcock and his wife, Andrea, of Youngstown, and brother, Tim, and his wife, Debbie, of the Village of Wilson, are behind the estimated $1.3 million project.
   They also envision the addition of a small restaurant and plenty of rental retail space in the nearly 50,000-square-foot complex.
   The brewery would use about 24,000 to 30,000 square feet in the stone building portion of the site, Mark Woodcock said.
   “We will leave about 12,000 square feet across three levels in the stone building open, which we feel would be perfect for a winery to join us,” he said. “We feel this could really enhance this as a destination.”

- Businessmen to tap 'fandemonium' - Dino Grandoni/The Buffalo News|
   Athletes who have played in Buffalo have said over and over that sports fans here are among the most devoted in the country. In the words of legendary sportscaster Van Miller, it's "fandemonium" at Buffalo sporting events.
   Which is why a pair of businessmen are trying to create a local sports museum that will be the first of its kind in Buffalo, one that they want to call -- yes -- Fandemoneum.
    The museum, named after the term coined by Miller, the longtime Bills play-by-play man, is the brainchild of two native Buffalonians: Gregory D. Tranter, who lives in Massachusetts, and Michael R. Weekes, who recently moved back to the area. ...
   What Fandemoneum (ending in "eum" like "museum") [like Newseum] will look like isn't the biggest question mark. Where to put it and how to finance it are. ...
   Tranter and Weekes met at the "Buffalo Bills 50th Season" exhibit at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, where Tranter took guests on tours through the memorabilia, most of which was from his sizable collection of over 100,000 Bills items. ... They did some research and saw existing sports museums for the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh's sports franchises.

   OK. All together now:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Lights, action, Kindles ...

   The Business Today section of The Buffalo News includes dispatches about a maker of emergency lighting equipment that is expanding locally, a pair of funeral homes where ownership is, dare we say, rolling over and the introduction of yet another gizmo for this new exciting activity called "reading."

- K&H buys plant in Hamburg to expand - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   An Angola lighting manufacturer has paid $1 million to buy the former Hamburg manufacturing plant of the bankrupt National Envelope Corp., where it will consolidate two plants and gain additional space.
   K&H Industries, acting through Grimsview Properties LLC, bought the facility at 160 Elmview Ave. from National Envelope Corp. — East on Friday, in a transaction that was just approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

- Funeral homes change owners - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   Two East Aurora funeral homes are changing corporate owners as part of a larger divestiture by the nation’s largest funeral home company after a major acquisition.
   Houston-based Service Corporation International has sold the Kenneth Howe and Froehley-Dengler funeral homes in East Aurora to Foundation Partners Group LLC of Tampa, Fla.
   The local funeral homes were part of a deal that includes 23 funeral homes and five cemeteries in 13 states.  ...
   SCI, the largest provider of funeral and cemetery services in North America, was directed by the Federal Trade Commission to sell 22 funeral homes and cemeteries with $19 million in combined revenues as a condition of the FTC’s approving its larger purchase of rival Keystone North America, also in Tampa.

- Latest Kindle set to hit market - Rachel Metz/AP/Buffalo News
   Jeff Bezos isn't just confident you'll want a Kindle e-book reader. The CEO of is bracing for a future in which you'll also want ones for your kid heading to college, your spouse in a book club and perhaps even Grandpa.
   And despite increased competition from Apple Inc.'s flashy iPad and other e-readers, that future could be coming soon -- as early as August, actually, when online retailer Inc. releases two new Kindle models.

OK, folks, get ready to flick your Bics:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Help wanted, wanted, wanted

   Jobs are bustin' out all over:

- Buffalo Niagara gets major boost in jobs - Stephen T. Watson/The Buffalo News
   For a region used to losing jobs like we lose Super Bowls and free-agent hockey players, Tuesday brought a trophy-worthy dose of good economic news.
   Four companies announced plans to hire more than 650 people in separate projects in an area still Localedge struggling to recover from the recent recession.
   This comes as some rare good news for job seekers in a region where plant closings and job cuts remain all too common.
   "It's very serendipitous that a bunch of very different companies is announcing these job increases at the same time," said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and chief executive officer of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. "There isn't a common reason for them, but each of them is a precious asset."
   Walmart, the publisher of the Talking Phone Book and a reborn fire truck maker all said they are seeking workers.
   And a fast-growing pharmaceutical business announced plans to move to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and start hiring, the latest boost to a life-sciences sector that carries the high hopes of local officials.

- Walmart hiring 350-400 for new store in Lancaster - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
  Increasing its local footprint, Walmart has started hiring 350 to 400 people to staff its new Town of Lancaster store.
   The store, at 4975 Transit Road, north of William Street, is set to open Sept. 15. The majority of the new hires will start working there next month. [Hiring website here]
- Call center in Amherst to boost jobs - Dino Grandoni/The Buffalo News
   Amherst’s status as a call center hub got a boost Tuesday when the White Directory Publishers announced plans for a telephone sales center that will employ 150 by the end of the year.
   The company — which publishes LocalEdge, formerly known as the Talking Phone Book — said it will continue hiring for telephone sales positions at its Amherst-based office. [Hiring website here]
- New center coming to medical campus - Samantha Maziarz Christmann/The Buffalo News
   Chalk up another addition to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
   OncoMed Pharmaceuticals of Great Neck will occupy 4,500 square feet at the CampusInnovation Center come September, and it will bring new jobs with it. The company provides bio-oncology pharmaceutical care management and pharmacy services. [Hiring website here]

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Avoiding fees. Changing names. Playing ball.

  Business-related news from Page One and Business Today:

- Bank fees overdraw welcome - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   The days of paying a $35 overdraft fee on a $2 cup of coffee could be over.
   Under new
federal rules, consumers who overdraw their accounts using debit cards at an ATM or merchant won't get socked with fees unless they have "opted in" for the overdraft coverage. But their transactions with insufficient funds will be rejected. ...
   About 82 percent of bank customers haven't overdrawn in the last 12 months, while the rest do it more frequently and account for most of the fees.
   "Those folks used that as a financial planning tool," said Jim Holding, marketing director for Northwest Bancshares, parent of
Northwest Savings Bank. "They use that as part of their day-to-day financial working."
   [Appropriate pop culture reference below.]

- Phaseout is set for Colgan Air name - Phil Fairbanks/The Buffalo News
   The name Colgan Air, synonymous with the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence Colginair Center, is going away.
   No one will comment on when the Colgan name will be phased out, but the airline’s parent, Pinnacle Airlines, confirmed that the name will eventually disappear.
   “Over time, our intent is to phase out the Colgan name as we reorganize into two operating airlines,” Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams said in a statement.
   Pinnacle’s confirmation that the Colgan name is being phased out came just days after it announced its $62 million purchase of Mesaba Airlines, a regional carrier owned by Delta Air Lines.
   Pinnacle did not offer a timetable on when the name change would occur. Colgan, which flies under the name Continental Connection, operated the plane that crashed in Clarence Center in February 2009, killing 50 people. Continental subcontracted the Newark-to-Buffalo route to Colgan.

- Baidu chief boosts China - John Boudreau/San Jose Mercury News/Buffalo News
   The head of China’s biggest online success story, who is a University at Buffalo graduate, has some advice for U.S. companies hoping to break into the world’s largest Internet market: You’d better hurry, and you’d better be willing to work with the government.

Continue reading "Avoiding fees. Changing names. Playing ball." »

Buying and selling

   More from Business Today:

- Carubba is among commercial property buyers - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   Sam Carubba [right], owner of Carubba Collision, paid $485,000 through Carubba & Sons LLC to buy 9180 Transit Road Carubba East Amherst, next door to his facility. ...
   The property currently has a small 1,500-square-foot stand-alone brick block building that is home to Becker’s Towing & Recovery, which Carubba also owns. That building will be demolished to make room for a 12,000-square-foot automotive retail plaza, enabling three businesses to add 10 to 15 jobs....
   Besides towing and mechanical repairs, Becker’s will help the state Department of Transportation and local law enforcement to investigate accidents involving deaths or heavy damage. For example, the company would assist in testing brakes and other systems on the vehicle to see if they were working properly.

- Dormant Springville TV station purchased - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
   Two veterans of Western New York television broadcasting are buying a dormant Springville television station from a national religious broadcaster with plans to bring it to life.
   Philip A. Arno and Donald M. Angelo, through ITV of Buffalo LLC, agreed to pay more than $2.75 million to acquire WNGS-TV from Texas-based Daystar Television Network. The deal is subject to Federal Communications Commission approval.
   WNGS, founded in 1996 and formerly found on Channel 67, has been “dark” since last June 12, when all U. S. television stations were mandated to switch from analog to digital signals.

Boom Boom Room

   An episode explaining how the British and Americans are separated by a common language, from Alistair Cooke's "America:"CookesAmerica

  I remember once, during a strike in New York when the salmon wasn't coming in, there seemed to be a glut of bagels in the Jewish bakeries. In a whimsical moment I sent a cable to my editor [in England] warning him that I was about to put a piece on the wire entitled, "Lox Lag Brings Bagel Boom." He cabled right back: "Your message hopelessly garbled, it reads lox lag brings bagel boom."

   Which is a clever story that has something to do with:
- Oil spill may cause boom in boom business - George Pyle/The Buffalo News
   All that oil gushing from the broken BP well in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to lead to a boom in the Afti boom business.
   But, so far, the folks at Orchard Park’s Applied Fabric Technologies Inc., which makes a variety of oil-spill cleanup equipment, have received nothing more than a lot of phone calls.
   And, no, they don’t need your hair to make absorbent booms.
   “There’s still a lot of negotiation going on,” John O’Brien, AFTI’s marketing director, said Friday. “Until that’s finished, it’s mostly tire-kicking.” ...
    The idea that cast-off hair could tame the spill is the brainchild of a San Francisco environmental organization called Matter of Trust. Among its supporters is Fantastic Sams, which is collecting hair clippings to be turned into oil-absorbing care packages that will be sent to gulf beaches. Even if it isn’t used to make ocean-going booms, the hair could be laid out on gulf beaches to absorb up to 10 times its own weight in oil.

   And another boom story, also from The Buffalo News Business Today:
- Seaway heralds upswing - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   Shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway [en Francais] took a dramatic hit in 2009 last year during the recession. But the Seaway is showing signs of recovery this year, Seaway officials said.
   The amount of cargo transported through the Seaway, which includes the Welland Canal, from the start of the season through April increased 18 percent from the same period last year, officials said.

   A little Boom Boom Pow:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
[boom chagga lagga]

Time sheltered. Newsweek on the block.

   News about two of the biggest names in news - Time and Newsweek.

   The former, part of a larger and, today anyway, more profitable conglomerate, gets a passing mention in:
- Time Warner 1Q profit rises on better ad revenue - Associated Press
    Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit rose 10 percent, helped by better advertising revenue and strong home video sales. ...
   ... Revenue for the publishing division, which Time Inc. is a part of, dipped 1 percent

   The latter grabs its own headlines: Newsweek
- With Newsweek sale planned, is end of an era near? - Andrew Vanacore/AP/Buffalo News
   At a time when people don't want to wait a minute for information, let alone seven days, do newsweeklies have a future? If Newsweek does, it won't be with its current owner.
   The 77-year-old magazine, hobbled by sagging ad revenue and circulation, is being put up for sale by The Washington Post Co., which is bowing out of the struggle to keep the genre relevant.

      For a vivid illustration of the trouble Newsweek finds itself in, note that news of its woes got it noticed by a whole lot of people who probably don't read it, and may never really have known it existed. Viz:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Jon Meacham Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

- Why not combine Newsweek and Slate? - Jon Friedman/MarketWatch
   Why can't the Washington Post Co. combine Newsweek and Slate, another of its well regarded media holdings, into one all-online operation? The move would accomplish one big priority: saving money.
- Should Newsweek survive? - Michael Tomasky/The Guardian
   Someone with a sense of civic purpose should buy Newsweek (it can't cost much at this point), accept that it will be much smaller, not worry much about news per se at all, and try to build an informed citizenry and a space for actual civic discourse. It wouldn't be remotely like what Newsweek used to be, but it will serve a purpose in our age, which last I checked we still call the Information Age.
- As media results improve, investors lose interest - Reuters
  Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) and CBS Corp (CBS.N) on Wednesday followed News Corp (NWSA.O) in reporting stronger quarterly results, but a sell-off in their shares suggested that Wall Street has already baked in the gradual recovery in advertising spending that is bolstering media profits.
   "I think media stocks have peaked," said Alan Gould, an analyst with Soleil-Gould Research Corp.
Time Warner’s CNN May Partner for News, Bewkes Says - The Financial Times
   CNN and CBS Corp. news executives have discussed ways the companies could combine operations to cut costs, New York magazine reported yesterday. Talks occurred in recent weeks, the New York Times reported, citing unidentified executives who had been briefed. CBS and Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting announced a $10.8 billion deal on April 22 to share the cost of carrying the March Madness college basketball tournament.

 -- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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