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January 21, 2022

People’s United Bank acquisition still awaiting Federal Reserve approval

Photo | Contributed People's United Bank headquarters in Bridgeport.

Buffalo’s M&T Bank hoped to complete its $7.6 billion acquisition of Bridgeport-based People’s United Bank in the fourth quarter of 2021, but as of this week the partners are still waiting on approval from the Federal Reserve, People’s United officials disclosed Thursday.

In a statement released alongside People’s United’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, executives acknowledged the delay but did not say why the review seems to be stalled.

“As we wait for the approval of the merger from the Federal Reserve, we continue to work diligently with our M&T partners on integration planning,” said People’s United Chairman and CEO Jack Barnes. “As such, a seamless transition is expected for our clients and colleagues once the transaction is closed.”

The two banks in October secured approvals for their linkup from the New York State Department of Financial Services and Connecticut Department of Banking. At the time, M&T leaders were still confident the deal would close by the end of the year.

That forecast had apparently shifted by early November, when M&T Chairman and CEO Rene Jones told an industry conference that other, similar mergers and acquisitions were also being held up.

“I think there just seems to be a pause in deals being approved through the system,” Jones said, according to reporting from S&P Global Marketing Intelligence.

By the end of 2021, there were 19 mergers involving U.S. banks that had yet to go through, S&P Global reported, likely reflective of a change in attitude at the Federal Reserve brought about by the administration of President Joe Biden, who has signalled his intent to rein in bank mergers that could threaten competition and consumer choice.

M&T first announced plans to absorb People’s United in Feb. 2021. Shareholders of both banks approved the acquisition at meetings in May.

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