HSBC Branches in Fulton, Oswego Won’t Close; They’re Sold to Community Bank

HSBC didn’t want its branches in Fulton and Oswego.  Neither did First Niagara Bank, which bought HSBC’s upstate branches, but not the ones in Fulton, Oswego and the North Country.

Finally, the branches have a home.

Community Bank System announced Friday that it will buy 19 branches — 16 of HSBC’s branches that First Niagara refused to buy, and 3 First Niagara branches.  The branches in Fulton and Oswego are among them.

(See the full news release below for the list of all branches.)

HSBC sold its upstate branches to First Niagara last year, getting out of retail banking in the region.

Community Bank will double its presence in Oswego County with the purchase.  It operates branches in Hannibal and Pulaski.

News release from Community Bank:

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Community Bank System, Inc. CBU -0.70% through its wholly-owned banking subsidiary, Community Bank, N.A., entered into purchase and assumption agreements to acquire 19 branch-banking locations across its core Upstate New York markets from First Niagara Bank, N.A. and HSBC Bank USA, N.A. The HSBC branches are being sold by First Niagara in connection with its pending acquisition of HSBC’s Upstate New York banking franchise. Under the terms of the agreements, Community Bank will acquire approximately $218 million in loans and $955 million in deposits at a blended deposit premium of 3.22 percent.

“We’re excited by this opportunity to further strengthen Community Bank’s service footprint across our existing Upstate New York market area,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Tryniski. “This acquisition is consistent with our long-term growth strategy and leverages a strong competency developed during previous successful branch acquisitions. We believe this is a very attractive transaction which will be additive to the existing strength of our core markets and which will be additive to shareholder value through expected earnings accretion of 4 percent to 5 percent in 2013.”

Community Bank, First Niagara and HSBC will communicate with customers of these branches to explain potential changes to their banking relationships following the transfer. There will be no changes to customer accounts prior to the transaction closing. Customers of the acquired branches need not take any action at this time.

“Our team will be working closely with employees of First Niagara and HSBC to ensure a smooth transition which we expect will be virtually seamless for customers,” said Mr. Tryniski. “We believe that our new customers will be very pleased with our strong focus on customer service and our comprehensive product line.”

Branches to be acquired include 16 current HSBC branches in Gowanda, Springville, Westfield, Palmyra, Newark, Geneseo, Watkins Glen, Avon, Watertown (2), Plattsburgh, Oswego, Fulton, Lowville, Adams, and Alexandria Bay; and three current First Niagara branches in Geneva (2) and Canandaigua.

The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2012, subject to regulatory review and approval. Community Bank System, Inc. expects additional equity capital of $50 million to $60 million will be needed to support the acquisition and expects to achieve that through any of or a combination of existing liquidity, balance sheet management, or the issuance of new capital.

RBC Capital Markets acted as exclusive financial advisor to Community Bank System, Inc.

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