updated 4/6/2011 2:48:03 PM ET 2011-04-06T18:48:03

BUFFALO, N.Y., April 6, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Connecticut Department of Banking approved the merger of First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:FNFG) and NewAlliance Bancshares, Inc. (NYSE:NAL), clearing the way for the combination of the two organizations. Today's approvals follow last week's sign-off from the Federal Reserve Board.

"We are very pleased to now have received approval of our transaction from all regulators - the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC and the Connecticut Department of Banking," said First Niagara President and Chief Executive Officer John R. Koelmel. "We continue to demonstrate our readiness and preparedness to take our organization to the next level as well as our commitment to the customers and communities we serve across the franchise, which will now include Connecticut and Massachusetts."

The banks plan to complete the transaction on Friday, April 15th and open all NewAlliance locations as First Niagara branches on Monday, April 18th.

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

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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