First Niagara Acquires Ithaca, N.Y. Agency

February 2, 2005

First Niagara Risk Management, Inc., the wholly-owned insurance subsidiary of First Niagara Bank , has reached an agreement to acquire the L.A. Lama Insurance Agency. The acquisition of the Ithaca-based agency, which has an annual premium volume of approximately $7 million, became effective Feb. 1 and complements First Niagara’s growing insurance presence in a number of cities across New York state.

Daniel E. Cantara, First Niagara’s senior vice president for financial and business services, said the acquisition supports First Niagara’s lending and banking presence in Tompkins County and is part of the company’s strategic initiative to establish financial service centers in several key markets, including Ithaca. Ranked sixth in deposit market share in Tompkins County, First Niagara currently has three locations there.

“We have identified areas within our footprint where we want to expand our presence through the establishment of financial service centers offering financial services as a total package so our business and consumer banking customers will look to us as their trusted advisor when it comes to their banking, investment and insurance needs,” said Cantara. “Ithaca is a market where we want to expand and our acquisition of L.A. Lama gives us the ability to do so with an agency that has well-known, experienced and dedicated leadership and staff.”

As a result of the acquisition, L.A. Lama will combine into First Niagara Risk Management and continue to specialize in property, casualty, life and employee benefits with an equal emphasis on commercial and personal lines. A name change will take effect immediately. By agreement of both parties, financial terms were not disclosed.

John D. Hoffman, chief executive officer of First Niagara Risk Management, said the transaction is a good fit.

“We have a significant insurance presence in Buffalo, Rochester and now, Albany, with our recent acquisition of The Bostwick Group,” said Hoffman. “This wonderful new partnership will strengthen our presence in the central part of the state and enhance our ability to provide value to our customers in a market that has great potential.”

Robert A. Lama, who has been serving as the agency’s principal for the past 30 years, will continue on as vice president.

L.A. Lama Insurance Agency was established in 1960 and serves more than 8,500 individuals and businesses in Tompkins County and beyond.

Established in 1968, First Niagara Risk Management’s product line includes personal and commercial insurance, surety bonds, risk management, employee benefits and administration and life, disability and long-term care coverage. Including this transaction, First Niagara Risk Management has made eight acquisitions since 1999 and now has the second largest insurance agency in Buffalo, the eighth largest in Rochester and the fifth largest in the Capital Region, when ranked by premium volume.

First Niagara Risk Management is part of First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: FNFG). The company, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank has assets of $7.8 billion and deposits of $5.1 billion.

Topics Mergers New York Risk Management

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