First Niagara Financial Group has cleared the final hurdle in its bid to buy NewAlliance BancShares Inc. in New Haven, Conn.

The $21 billion-asset company announced Wednesday that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Connecticut Department of Banking approved the $1.5 billion purchase. The Federal Reserve Board signed off on the deal last week.

First Niagara, of Buffalo, N.Y., expects to complete the deal by April 15 and to open all NewAlliance branches as First Niagara branches on April 18.

"We continue to demonstrate our readiness and preparedness to take our organization to the next level as well as our commitment to the customers and communities we serve across the franchise, which will now include Connecticut and Massachusetts," John Koelmel, First Niagara's chief executive, said in a press release.

The combined institution will have more than $30 billion of assets, $18 billion of deposits and 340 branches across upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

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