Officials Want Answers About Proposed Bank Merger


New Haven leaders believe New York-based First Niagara Financial Group’s plans to buy New Haven-based NewAlliance Bancshares will have a negative impact on the area and they want a chance to be heard.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Attorney General and Senator-Elect Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro are calling for public hearings, during which the community can get information about how the buyout would impact people, particularly businesses and low-income residents.

Officials also want to know about the lending rates, how many Connecticut jobs would be lost if the merger goes through and whether loan officers will remain in Connecticut or work out of Buffalo, New York.

“A great number of people in New Haven are deeply concerned that this merger will reduce the amount of lending to the underserved parts of our community -- including small businesses, non-profits, and low and moderate-income individuals, and result in significant job loss,” DeLauro said. “I strongly urge the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to take the City of New Haven’s concerns seriously, and to hold a public hearing as soon as possible.”

Blumenthal said he is concerned about jobs.

“My office is demanding details from NewAlliance and First Niagara about jobs and local lending -- particularly impacting ordinary, middle class families and small businesses,” he said in a statement. “I’m concerned about loan officers located only in Buffalo or New York solely responsible for decisions about loans to New Haven businesses and families.”

First Niagara released a statement that says, in part:

“We are confident that the combination of First Niagara and New Alliance will be beneficial to employees, customers, shareholders and the communities we serve.”

The statement said local leadership will be based in what is now the NewAlliance Bank Building on Church Street in New Haven and it will become the New England Regional Market Center for First Niagara.

“Our team leaders in New Haven and across Connecticut and Massachusetts will make local decisions on credit and banking operations, as well as philanthropy and corporate citizenship,” the company said.

If approved, the merger would close in April.

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