Mark Czarnecki, M&T Bank Corp.'s President, COO, Dies at 61

  • He joined the bank in 1977 as an assistant branch manager
  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has a 3.49 percent stake

Mark J. Czarnecki, who rose from assistant branch manager to president and chief operating officer at M&T Bank during four decades at the lender, has died. He was 61.

He died Sunday at a hospital in Buffalo, New York, after an extended illness, the bank announced Monday in a statement. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Czarnecki was responsible for managing M&T’s daily operations, including consumer lending, business banking, investment and mortgage activities. He also oversaw the Buffalo-based company’s technology, human resources and marketing departments.

“Throughout his career -- and throughout his life -- Mark distinguished himself as a leader and a servant of others,” Robert G. Wilmers, M&T’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement. “Both his leadership and his service will be missed greatly -- by his family, his colleagues and his community.”

Czarnecki, who became M&T’s president in 2007, was named COO in January 2014 when Vice Chairman Michael Pinto stepped down, citing a serious medical condition. The promotion put Czarnecki in line to succeed Wilmers, 82.

Growth Strategy

During Czarnecki’s tenure as a key executive at the bank, M&T pursued a strategy of rapid expansion. In 2015 the bank acquired Hudson City Bancorp, based in Paramus, New Jersey, for $5.3 billion. Earlier, M&T had added Delaware-based Wilmington Trust and K Bank and Bradford Bank, both based in Baltimore, to its stable.

M&T reported net income of $1.3 billion and total assets of $123.4 billion, as of Dec. 31. The company operates 775 offices in eight eastern states and the District of Columbia and has more than 17,000 employees. Formerly known as Manufacturers and Traders Bank, M&T is one of the 20 largest commercial bank holding companies in the nation, according to its website.

“The culture of the bank is to lend to people we know, build on the relationships, with a relatively conservative credit culture,” Czarnecki said, according to 2010 Buffalo News story. “It’s pervasive through every credit product that we have.”

Buffett Stake

M&T’s largest shareholders include billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., with a stake of 3.49 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Czarnecki received a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1977 and an MBA from Canisius College, also in Buffalo, in 1991.

He entered M&T in 1977 as an assistant branch manager, joined the bank’s investment group in 1994 and was named president of M&T Securities the following year, according to a company biography.

Czarnecki was chairman of the New York Bankers Association in 2010. He served on the board of trustees at Canisius College and the University at Buffalo Foundation Inc. and was a former chairman of the Buffalo Zoo.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons, Christopher and Gregory.

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