Photo Release -- First Niagara Names Gary M. Crosby to Serve as President and Chief Executive Officer

Photo Release -- First Niagara Names Gary M. Crosby to Serve as President and
Chief Executive Officer

BUFFALO, N.Y., Dec. 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Niagara Financial
Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:FNFG) today announced that its Board of Directors has
appointed Gary M. Crosby as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective
immediately. He also joins the company's Board. Mr. Crosby, 60, has served as
First Niagara's interim President and CEO since March 2013.

Gary M. Crosby

A photo accompanying this release is available at
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=22764

The company's announcement follows an extensive internal and external search,
which the Board of Directors conducted in partnership with the firm of
Korn/Ferry International, a leading national executive search firm with
substantial financial services sector expertise.

"Gary's wide range of experience, his relationships inside and outside the
company, and his demonstrated ability to deliver solid operating results make
him the best person for the position," Chairman of the Board, G. Thomas
Bowers, said. "Following a comprehensive search for an executive with strong
organizational and operational experience, who can extract value from the
outstanding franchise we've assembled, we concluded Gary has the right
combination of these attributes. As shareholders and directors, we believe
First Niagara has opportunities as a leading independent banking organization
to continue to drive operational excellence and organic growth in the
communities we serve. The Board unanimously agreed that Gary is the right
individual to lead the company to leverage these opportunities and deliver
long-term shareholder value."

"The First Niagara team has made significant progress delivering on its
commitments by remaining focused on the basics of banking and by continuing to
enhance our ability to help our customers do great things every day," said Mr.
Crosby. "I am confident that we can improve our business model and deliver a
truly differentiated customer experience by leveraging the talent we have
assembled and making the right investments in new talent, technology, products
and services to drive value for all of our stakeholders."

Mr. Crosby concluded, "First Niagara has and will continue to provide a
workplace where talented employees build rewarding careers and we will remain
a leading corporate citizen in the communities we serve. First Niagara has a
strong team of seasoned bankers and financial services professionals and I am
proud of all we have accomplished thus far. I am grateful for the opportunity
to continue to lead an organization with such experienced, dedicated and
talented professionals."

Gary M. Crosby

During his career, Mr. Crosby has earned a reputation as an operational leader
who drives results. He joined First Niagara in 2009, and prior to his role as
Interim President and CEO, served as Executive Vice President and Chief
Administrative and Operating Officer. In this role, he championed First
Niagara's focus on operational excellence, was the architect of the company's
risk management capabilities build-out, and led the successful system
conversions associated with the company's recent acquisitions. Prior to
joining First Niagara, Mr. Crosby was a founding shareholder of ClientLogic
Corporation, serving as chief financial and chief operating officer. During
his tenure, the company grew from three to 3,000 employees, expanded
internationally and received recognition for best-in-class customer service
and innovation.He was also a partner with Seed Capital Partners, a venture
capital firm, and has held senior financial leadership positions in the
banking and manufacturing industries. Mr. Crosby dedicated five years to
completely revamping the operations and finances of the Buffalo schools, the
second largest school district in New York State. He is a magna cum laude
graduate of Canisius College.

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A.,
is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 420 branches, $37
billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees
providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across
New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information,
visit www.firstniagara.com.

Forward-Looking Statements - This press release contains forward-looking
statements with respect to the financial condition and results of operations
of First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. including, without limitations,
statements relating to the earnings outlook of the company. These
forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties. Factors
that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by
such forward-looking statements include, among others, the following
possibilities: (1) changes in the interest rate environment; (2) competitive
pressure among financial services companies; (3) general economic conditions
including an increase in non-performing loans that could result from an
economic downturn; (4) changes in legislation or regulatory requirements; (5)
difficulties in continuing to improve operating efficiencies; (6) difficulties
in the integration of acquired businesses; and (7) increased risk associated
with an increase in commercial real estate and business loans and
non-performing loans.

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

CONTACT: First Niagara Contacts
        
         Investors:
         Ram Shankar
         Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
         (716) 270-8623
         ram.shankar@fnfg.com
        
         News Media:
         David Lanzillo
         Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
         (716) 819-5780
         david.lanzillo@fnfg.com

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