M&T Bank Corp. of Buffalo is poised to enter the property and casualty insurance business early next year with a deal to buy a local agency.

M&T said last week that it agreed to buy Matthews, Bartlett & Dedecker Inc., a Buffalo agency that had revenues of nearly $5 million last year. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close during the first quarter, were not disclosed.

"By acquiring this agency we are acquiring an expertise," said Gary S. Paul, M&T senior vice president of corporate finance.

Matthews Bartlett, which has 40 employees, would operate independently and would not be merged into the banking company's 11-year-old life insurance effort. Gerald C. Saxe would remain president of the agency.

The $21.8 million-asset banking company plans to cross-sell products with the agency. "We'll grow their business faster," Mr. Paul said. "Fundamentally, we expect our insurance reps to advise our clients that we are here."

Neither Mr. Saxe nor Mr. Paul would give projections, saying there is no detailed plan for a referral program yet. M&T executives said sales figures for its life insurance program were not immediately available.

Michael S. Piemonte, administrative vice president of corporate finance, said M&T has 600 securities brokers and branch employees licensed to sell insurance.

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