First Niagara Risk Management Acquires Two Rochester Agencies

July 3, 2003

First Niagara Risk Management, Inc., the wholly-owned insurance subsidiary of First Niagara Bank and its parent, First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., announced that it has reached agreements to acquire two Rochester-based insurance agencies, Costello, Dreher, Kaiser Insurance Agency and Loomis & Co., for an undisclosed amount. The acquisitions are effective immediately.

William E. Swan, First Niagara Financial Group’s chairman, president and CEO, said the acquisitions enable First Niagara to establish a significant insurance presence in the Rochester market, a key strategic initiative, and would complement First Niagara Bank’s growing lending and banking presence there. “There is no question that we are in a growth mode but it’s important that we do it in the right way which means aligning ourselves with entities that share our core values and vision,” Swan stated. “With these agencies, we get the best of both worlds; the opportunity to expand in a market we want to reach and the ability to do so with experienced and dedicated leadership and staff that have an impeccable reputation for expertise and integrity.”

Plans call for Costello, Dreher, Kaiser Insurance and Loomis & Co., Inc. to merge into First Niagara Risk Management and become its Rochester Division. “They will continue to specialize in property, casualty, life and employee benefits with an equal emphasis on commercial and personal lines. Name changes for both agencies will take effect immediately,” said the bulletin. It also noted that no layoffs are planned as a result of the acquisitions and “the leadership of both agencies will remain in place.”

John D. Hoffman, First Niagara Risk Management CEO, said the transactions would “fit in well” with his company’s existing insurance carrier strategic partners, and would open “opportunities for new relationships,” as the company continues to expand its risk management business into other target markets. “We see this as just the starting point for our future expansion into the insurance community, particularly with agencies that share our core values,” Hoffman stated.

John R. Costello, a partner in Costello, Dreher, Kaiser, will serve as president of the Rochester Division of First Niagara Risk Management while partner Paul A. Dreher will serve as executive vice president. Paul M. Starr, CEO of Loomis & Co., will also serve as executive vice president. Over the next several months, the two agencies, which are currently located at 1665 Ridge Road East and 733 Linden Avenue, will combine forces to become one team and will operate out of the Linden Avenue location only.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for us,” Costello indicated. “The acquisition aligns us with a strong and growing company dedicated to providing a variety of financial services and who shares a similar mission and reputation for establishing relationships through personalized service. It also gives us the platform for additional acquisitions including agencies and producers in the Greater Rochester area and beyond.”

“Costello, Dreher, Kaiser Insurance was established in 1903 and serves more than 6,000 individuals and 500 businesses in the Monroe County area. Loomis & Co. was established in 1959 and serves more than 1,600 businesses and 500 individuals in the same market. Combined, the agencies have 29 employees who produce more than $20 million in premium volume annually. This transaction makes the Rochester Division of First Niagara Risk Management the fifth largest agency in the Rochester Region” said the announcement.

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