First Niagara Financial Group Inc. in Lockport, N.Y., is looking to raise $100 million through an offering of its common stock.

The $9.1 billion-asset company said it intends to use the proceeds "for the execution of its growth strategy." Analysts said that could mean acquiring branches from larger institutions or buying a bank or thrift outright.

"We view this as an offensive move as it gives the company dry powder and leaves it positioned to take advantage of further disruptions in the market," Thomas Alonso and Albert Savastano, two analysts at Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller, wrote in a research note issued Wednesday.

First Niagara announced the capital-raising plan after the markets closed Tuesday. It has not set an offering price. Analysts expect the shares to be sold at around $15.

KBW Inc.'s Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. and Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP are managing the stock sale. Both firms will have the option to acquire an additional 15% of the shares sold to cover potential overallotments.

First Niagara's shares fell 5.5% Wednesday, to $14.86.

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