updated 3/31/2011 4:18:30 PM ET 2011-03-31T20:18:30

BUFFALO, N.Y., March 31, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Federal Reserve Board today approved the merger of NewAlliance Bancshares, Inc. (NYSE:NAL) into First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:FNFG).

"We are very pleased to receive approval of our transaction from the Federal Reserve Board and look forward to similar approvals from both the Comptroller of the Currency and Connecticut Department of Banking," said First Niagara President and Chief Executive Officer John R. Koelmel. 

About First Niagara

Upon completion of its pending merger with NewAlliance Bancshares, Inc., First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., will have more than $30 billion in assets, $18 billion in deposits and 340 branches across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.fnfg.com .

Forward Looking Statements

This document may contain forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about First Niagara, NewAlliance and the merger. There are several factors – many beyond First Niagara's control – that could cause actual results to differ significantly from expectations described in the forward-looking statements. For a discussion of factors that may cause actual results to differ from expectations, please see First Niagara and NewAlliance's respective Annual Reports on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov . Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update them to reflect changes that occur after that date.

CONTACT: First Niagara Contact
         Leslie G. Garrity
         Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager
         (716) 819-5921
         leslie.garrity@fnfg.com

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