First Niagara seeks to convert to commercial bank

AP News
Posted: Dec 03, 2009 4:21 PM

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. said Thursday it will apply to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to become a commercial bank instead of a thrift.

The move comes after the company last week applied to the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company, which would let it buy commercial banks and bring more business flexibility.

As a thrift holding company, First Niagara is permitted to own only thrift institutions and is regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision. But as a bank holding company, First Niagara could own thrifts and commercial banks and operate under the oversight of the Federal Reserve Board.

If these applications are approved, First Niagara Financial Group would become a bank holding company operating under the oversight of the Fed, and First Niagara Bank would become a commercial bank operating under the oversight of the OCC.

The company said converting to a commercial bank would have no impact on First Niagara employees' day-to-day responsibilities or interactions with customers.