First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG) has cleared its last hurdle in its bid to buy a network of branches in upstate New York and Connecticut from HSBC Holdings (HBC).

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has approved the deal, which is scheduled to close May 18, the Buffalo company said Monday.

The OCC approval was First Niagara's final requirement to complete the deal, John R. Koelmel, its president and chief executive, said in a news release.

"We have begun communicating with our customers as to what they can expect in the weeks ahead, and I am fully confident that our team will again deliver a smooth transition," Koelmel said. "Once complete, our more than 200 locations across upstate New York will provide customers with even greater access and convenience to the First Niagara team as well as our products and services."

First Niagara agreed last summer to buy 195 branches from HSBC for $1 billion. It later agreed to sell 64 branches to three other banks. The Justice Department had ordered First Niagara to sell 26 branches because of antitrust concerns.

Once the deal closes, First Niagara will have 430 branches, $30 billion of deposits and $38 billion of assets.

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