First Niagara Appoints Gary Crosby as Interim Chief Executive Officer

First Niagara Appoints Gary Crosby as Interim Chief Executive Officer

"First Niagara Has Assembled an Outstanding Franchise and is Entirely Focused
on Leveraging What We've Built to Drive Shareholder Value," Stated Chairman
Thomas Bowers

BUFFALO, N.Y., March 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Niagara Financial
Group (Nasdaq:FNFG) today announced that its Board of Directors, at its
regularly scheduled March 19^th meeting, appointed Gary M. Crosby, 59, to
serve as interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Crosby currently
is Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative and Operations Officer of
First Niagara. The appointment of Mr. Crosby follows the mutually agreed upon
departure of John R. Koelmel, as First Niagara's President, Chief Executive
Officer and Board member, effective immediately.

A special committee of the Board's independent directors has been formed to
initiate a search for a permanent President and CEO. The special committee
will be chaired by board member Nathaniel Woodson, and will conduct a thorough
and expeditious search, considering both internal and external candidates.An
executive search firm will be retained to assist in the CEO selection
process.

"John Koelmel has guided the company's transformation from a local thrift to a
leading northeast banking franchise, and led First Niagara during a period of
difficult economic conditions and financial industry turmoil," Chairman of the
Board, G. Thomas Bowers, said. "The Board and I are grateful to John for his
leadership through this critical period in our history and for positioning us
so that we can focus on enhancing shareholder value through continuing organic
growth and the efficient operation of the business we have today. We are
committed to maintaining our position as a leading independent banking
organization with a deep-seated focus on service to our customers and
communities and to building value for our shareholders."

Mr. Koelmel said, "I highly value the opportunity to have driven First
Niagara's rapid growth over the last six years and to position it as one of
the top regional banking franchises in the Northeast. And I thank all 6,000 of
my teammates for their tremendous support. I agree with the Board that it's in
the best interests of the organization under present circumstances to move
forward with new leadership."

"Gary Crosby is a highly respected executive with decades of leadership
experience in banking, technology, finance and the public sector," said
Bowers. "He has significant and diverse operational, business, and leadership
experience and, for the past four years, has been a valued advisor to the
Board and his colleagues on the Management Committee. We are fortunate to
have someone of Gary's caliber to lead First Niagara, and we anticipate a
smooth and seamless transition. In his role as Chief Banking Officer, Dan
Cantara will continue to oversee all customer-facing businesses. He and his
team have a proven track record of executing on strategies aimed at growing
and further deepening customer relationships, driving revenue and generating
positive operating leverage."

Crosby joined First Niagara in 2009, and has served as its Executive Vice
President and Chief Administrative and Operating Officer. In this role, Crosby
has overseen the successful build-out of the infrastructure to support the
company's growth, with particular focus on enterprise risk management,
technology, and operations.

Before joining First Niagara, Crosby was a founding shareholder of ClientLogic
Corporation serving as chief financial and chief operating officer. He was a
partner with Seed Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, and has held
senior financial leadership positions in banking and manufacturing. Crosby
also dedicated five years to full-time community service, answering the call
to turnaround the finances and operations of the Buffalo schools, the second
largest school district in New York State. Crosby is a magna cum laude
graduate of Canisius College.

"Enhancing shareholder value through operational excellence, a commitment to
the basics of banking and to helping our customers do great things every day
is our focus," said Crosby. "At the same time, we remain dedicated to making
credit and financial services widely available in our communities, adhering to
the risk management principles that have provided us with the exceptional
asset quality that has long distinguished First Niagara, providing a workplace
where talented employees build rewarding careers and serving as a leading
corporate citizen."

Under the Company's Corporate Governance Guidelines, Mr. Koelmel's board seat
expired upon his departure, and as a result he will not stand for reelection
to the Board at the Company's 2013 Annual Meeting of Shareholders scheduled
for April 24, 2013.The Company will be filing an amendment to its definitive
proxy statement for the Annual Meeting reflecting Mr. Koelmel's departure with
the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Company will report earnings for the first quarter of 2013 on April 19,
2013.

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,
approximately $37 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
        
         Media:
         David Lanzillo
         Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
         716-819-5780
         David.lanzillo@fnfg.com
 
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