Photo Release -- First Niagara Promotes Daniel Cantara to Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer

Photo Release -- First Niagara Promotes Daniel Cantara to Senior Executive
Vice President and Chief Banking Officer

All Customer-Facing Businesses Under the Leadership of the Chief Banking
Officer

BUFFALO, N.Y, Dec. 17, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Niagara Financial Group,
Inc. (Nasdaq:FNFG) promoted Daniel E. Cantara III to serve as Senior Executive
Vice President and Chief Banking Officer, responsible for oversight and
leadership of all customer-facing businesses at the regional bank.

Daniel E. Cantara III
 First Niagara Financial
 Group, Inc. promoted
 Daniel E. Cantara III to
 serve as Senior Executive
 Vice President and Chief
 Banking Officer

A photo accompanying this release is available at
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=16308

"Dan is a proven executive who consistently delivers exceptional results for
our organization," President and Chief Executive Officer John R. Koelmel said.
"Aligning all aspects of the customer experience under Dan's leadership,
across all products and services, is a continuation of our strategy to
optimize and drive growth and will enable us to more fully realize the
opportunities within each of our markets."

In addition to continuing his direct responsibility for First Niagara's
Commercial Services Group, as well as oversight of the Consumer Finance
business under Executive Vice President Andrew Fornarola, Cantara's expanded
role will now also include all Retail Banking operations under Executive Vice
President Mark Rendulic's leadership.

"I'm very proud of First Niagara's record of meeting and exceeding the needs
of all customers in the communities we serve, not only as a bank and financial
services provider, but as a leading corporate citizen," Cantara said."The
success we've achieved is thanks to the thousands of First Niagara team
members who devote themselves to doing great things for our customers and
neighbors, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to make sure they have the
support they need to further grow and succeed, each and every day."

Cantara has led First Niagara's Commercial Services Group since 2007, and its
financial services businesses, including insurance, benefits consulting and
wealth management, since 2001, when he first joined the company.Under his
leadership, the company's commercial lending business has established itself
as a top regional franchise, with industry leading growth and performance.
Prior to joining First Niagara, Cantara spent more than 20 years in public
accounting, including eight with Price Waterhouse and 12 as the managing
partner of a regional accounting firm he co-founded.

A lifelong resident of Western New York, Cantara is active in the community,
and serves on multiple boards, including the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the
Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Richardson Olmstead Complex, and is former
Chair of Artpark & Company. He is also a member of the University at Buffalo
School of Management Dean's Advisory Council, the Buck Institute Advisory
Council and the Dean's International Council at the Harris School of Public
Policy at the University of Chicago.

He earned his bachelor's degree in accounting and an MBA from the State
University of New York at Buffalo and is a member of the American Institute of
Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Certified
Public Accountants.

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A.,
is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 430 branches, $36
billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees
providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across
Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.For more
information, visit www.firstniagara.com.

CONTACT: Investors:
         Ram Shankar
         Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
         (716) 270-8623
         ram.shankar@fnfg.com

         News Media:
         Jodi Johnston
         Director, Corporate Media Relations
         (716) 515-8762
         jodi.johnston@fnfg.com