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Connecticut Native Named to Serve as New England Regional President Upon Completion of NewAlliance Bank Merger

/ Source: GlobeNewswire

NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 4, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:FNFG) named David V. Ring to serve as New England Regional President, leading the company's New Haven-based team of bankers across Connecticut and Massachusetts upon completion of its merger with NewAlliance Bancshares, Inc (NYSE:NAL).

Ring joins First Niagara from Wells Fargo (Wachovia), where he served for 15 years, most recently as Senior Vice President responsible for commercial banking across Connecticut and Upstate New York. A native of the New Haven area, Ring started his banking career there with People's United Bank where he held a series of relationship management roles.

"I'm proud to be responsible for leading an outstanding team that will be serving our customers and communities," Ring said. "I'm excited by the opportunity to help make a real difference for consumers and businesses in these markets, as my team will not only have the authority to make credit decisions based on local needs, but the responsibility for increasing lending across Connecticut and Massachusetts. I'm inspired by First Niagara's terrific track record and our plans for growth in this region and beyond."

In addition to his New England leadership role, Ring will serve as First Niagara's enterprise banking leader, and co-chair its senior loan committee, with corporate-wide responsibility in all markets where the bank operates for managing and directing all commercial business lending activities.

"Having David join First Niagara in this leadership role is great news for the company, our customers and the community," President and Chief Executive Officer John R. Koelmel said. "He knows the market and its needs inside and out, and brings a tremendous combination of business and community focus. We are excited to have him on board."

Prior to his most-recent position, from 2005 through 2009 Ring headed up Wachovia's wholesale banking group with responsibility for leading all its business banking and commercial banking teams in markets stretching from New England to Virginia. From 1996 to 2005, he served in commercial banking and investment services leadership roles of increasing responsibility, focused primarily on New England, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets. Prior to joining Wachovia in 1996, Ring was a commercial banker with National Westminster Bank and People's Bank.

Ring earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Providence College in Rhode Island. He's an active member of the community, serving on the boards of not-for-profit organizations in human services, the arts, education and business.

He and his team will be based in the NewAlliance Bank Building on 195 Church Street in New Haven, which will become First Niagara's New England Regional Market Center. Ring and First Niagara Executive Vice President Frank Polino will work together for the next several months to ensure a successful and smooth integration and transition.

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 .

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 . 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: Leslie G. Garrity Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager (716) 819-5921