First Empire State Corp. has wrapped up its acquisition of Statewide Funding Corp., an Albany, N.Y.-based mortgage bank.

First Empire State acted through the M&T Mortgage unit of its Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co. subsidiary in buying the in-state rival that brings with it the rights to service about $1 billion of home loans.

The deal is yet another indication of the unrelenting interest by banks in acquiring mortgage assets.

"We have been in their area for six or seven years now and view them as a strong competitor. It was a chance to pick up some people we regard highly," said James J. Beardi, president of M&T Mortgage, which, like First Empire State, is based in Buffalo.

Statewide originated more than $400 million of mortgages in 1994 through five retail offices in New York, one in Massachusetts, and one in Vermont, and also a national wholesale lending program.

Mr. Beardi said that the move was part of an increased emphasis on providing banking services in the Albany area.

"We don't have a branch banking presence in Albany but we do have a credit card program and make home equity loans as well as a new commercial lending initiative."

The deal may not be the last mortgage banking acquisition for M&T. "Despite the current challenges we believe the mortgage industry is very important and if the right opportunities come along we'd be open to looking," said Mr. Beardi.

Last year the company is believed to have discussed the purchase of Arbor National Mortgage, a publicly traded mortgage lender based in Long Island. Arbor was later sold to BankAmerica Corp.

M&T Mortgage services a portfolio of $4.7 billion and originated $850 million throughout its entire mortgage network in 1994.

First Empire is headquartered in Buffalo and reported consolidated total assets of $10.5 billion at Dec. 31, 1994.

M&T Bank has 141 banking offices throughout New York State. First Empire is also the parent company of East New York Savings Bank.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.