Marine Midland Bank

Marine Midland Bank
Marine Midland Bank, N.A. (1980-1999)
Marine Midland Banks Inc (1929-1995)
HSBC Americas (1995-1999)
Former type NYSE MM 1920-1987 Subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc 1987-1999
Industry Finance and Insurance
Fate Acquired by HSBC, 51% 1980 and 100% 1987 renamed HSBC Bank USA 1999
Founded July 10, 1850
Defunct March 29, 1999
Headquarters Buffalo, NY, United States
Key people
Malcom Burnett, President and CEO
Products Financial Services

Marine Midland Bank was a bank formerly headquartered in Buffalo with several hundred branches throughout the state of New York. Marine Midland began in 1850 in Buffalo as the Marine Trust Company with the objective of financing the new shipping trade on the Great Lakes. As the bank expanded into New York state it added the Midland to its name.

In the summer of 1850, eight men gathered in Buffalo to form a new commercial bank. They had come from throughout the state—General James S. Wadsworth of Geneseo, J. P. Beekman of Kinderhook, John Arnot of Elmira, John Magee and Constant Cook of Bath, William R. Gwinn of Medina, and George Palmer and James M. Ganson of Buffalo. [Both Palmer and Wadsworth of Buffalo had railroad connections. The two had financial interests in and served as directors of the Attica and Hornell Railroad, while Palmer had links also with the Buffalo and State Line Railroad.] The geographic diversity of the men indicated that the plan was to extend eventually the bank's services across the state.

[By 1981,] Marine Midland Bank N.A. accomplished that goal and has gone even further. It was the nation's 13th largest commercial bank with about 300 banking offices in more than New York communities and about 25 offices in foreign countries.

Marine Bank was founded as a state-chartered bank on July 10, 1850, with capital of $170,000. Palmer was elected president and Ganson was named cashier.

The new institution was called Marine Bank because much of its early business depended on the economic vitality of the city's lakefronts and riverfronts. From the first day it opened its doors on August 27 at 79 Main Street, Marine was the prominent bank for the thriving grain and milling industry on the waterfront.

By the turn of the century, Marine Bank of Buffalo began to expand through merger. In 1897 it absorbed the American Exchange Bank and in 1902 it acquired the Buffalo Commercial Bank. That same year it became a national bank and changed its name to Marine National Bank of Buffalo.

The next acquisition came in 1913 when Marine absorbed Columbia National Bank. Six years later Bankers Trust was acquired. Marine chose to become a state bank again, this time under the name Marine Trust Company of Buffalo. By the mid-1930s, Marine had acquired eight other banks.

Marine had also taken the lead in the formation of Marine Midland Corporation, a holding company for affiliating 17 banks throughout New York. That first multibank holding company in the state was formed October 4, 1929.

As a result of 11 mergers throughout Western New York, Marine Trust Company became Marine Midland Trust Company of Western New York in the 1950s. The name was changed again in the 1960s to Marine Midland Trust Company of Western NewYork and again in 1970 to Marine Midland Bank-Western.

On January 1, 1976, all previously independent Marine Banks were merged into a single Marine Midland Bank with headquarters in Buffalo. The new bank was divided into regions, with Marine Midland Bank-Western Region based in Buffalo.

Marine Midland Bank became a national-chartered bank in early 1980. As it entered the 1980s, assets were close to $20 billion.[1]

In 1980 The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation acquired a 51% shareholding in Marine Midland Bank, which it extended to full ownership in 1987. In 1994, Marine Midland acquired Spectrum Home Mortgage, which operated in eight states. Then in 1995, Marine acquired United Northern Federal Savings Bank, with branches in Watertown and Lowville, New York. Marine Midland also acquired The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation's six New York City retail branches, and the next year Hang Seng Bank's two branches in New York City. That same year, Marine Midland acquired 11 branches from the East River Savings Bank in the New York Metropolitan area. Marine also acquired the US dollar clearing business of J P Morgan. At the same time, HSBC transferred two branches in the northwestern United States to HSBC Bank Canada. The next year, Marine completed its acquisition of First Federal Savings and Loan from Toronto-based CT Financial Services, for $620 million. First Federal Savings, headquartered in Rochester, had $7.2 billion in assets, 1,600 employees, 79 retail branches in New York State and 15 mortgage origination offices in nine states.

In 1998, Marine Midland acquired First Commercial Bank of Philadelphia, which had been established in 1989 as the first state-chartered Asian-American bank in Pennsylvania. The bank served the local Asian community, which often faced language and cultural barriers at traditional American banks. Marine paid $23.75 million for First Commercial, which had $90 million in assets and $78 million in deposits in two branches.

The bank continued to operate under the Marine Midland name until 1998, when the branch offices were rebranded as HSBC and the legal name changed to HSBC Bank USA N.A.. In 1983, Marine Midland Bank acquired Carroll McEntee & McGinley (now HSBC Securities (USA)), a New York-based primary dealer in US government securities. Most of Marine Midland's Upstate New York branches are now owned by Buffalo based First Niagara Bank.

Marine Midland owned, either wholly or in part, several prominent New York City properties, including 250 Park Avenue (100%) and the Marine Midland Building at 140 Broadway in Manhattan (indirect 20% participation in Harry Helmsley's interest), near the World Trade Center. Completed in 1967, this 52-story, 688 ft (209.7 m) highrise provides 1.2 million square feet (110,000 m²) of office space in lower Manhattan and is noted for Isamu Noguchi's distinctive Cube sculpture at its entrance.

Also of note, Marine Midland had purchased naming rights to the Buffalo sports and entertainment venue constructed in 1996, the Marine Midland Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres. Today, the venue is known as the First Niagara Center.


  1. ^ Brown, Richard C.; Bob Watson (1981). Buffalo: Lake City in Niagara Land. Windsor Publications. p. 297. ISBN 0897810368. 

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