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John Koelmel Out at First Niagara Bank

5:45 PM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY-First Niagara Bank announced late Tuesday that John Koelmel is out as President and CEO of First Niagara Bank.

Koelmel, often seen and heard in radio and TV ads for the bank, was replaced following a meeting of the financial institution's Board of Directors.

A release called the move a "mutually agreed upon" departure.

Gary Crosby, currently Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative and Operations Officer at the bank, will serve as interim President and CEO.

"John Koelmel has guided the company's transformation from a local thrift to a leading northeast banking franchise,a nd led First Niagara during a period of difficult economic conditions and financial industry turmoil," said Chairman of the Board G. Thomas Bowers. "The Board and I are grateful to John for his leadership through this critical period in our history and for positioning us so that we can focus on enhancing shareholder value through continuing organic growth and the efficient operation of the business we have today. We are committed to maintaining our position as a leading independent banking organization with a deep-seated focus on service to our customers and communities and to building value for our shareholders."

Koelmel was at the helm as First Niagara took over numerous HSBC branches last year, increasing the bank's visibility throughout the WNY area. "I highly value the opportunity to have driven First Niagara's rapid growth over the last six years and to position it as one of the top regional banking franchises in the Northeast. And I thank all 6,000 of my teammates for their tremendous support. I agree with the board that it's in the best interests of the organization under present circumstances to move forward with new leadership."

A special committee of the Board's independent directors has been formed to start a search for a permanent President and CEO.

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