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M&T merger to result in Wilmington Trust layoffs

DOVER, Del.  — M&T Bank Corp.’s planned acquisition of Wilmington Trust Corp. will result in more than 700 layoffs in Delaware, officials said Wednesday.

Buffalo N.Y.-based M&T announced in November that it would pay about $351 million for Wilmington Trust, which has been reeling from a deteriorating portfolio of commercial real estate construction loans.

Officials said Wednesday that 721 Wilmington Trust employees in Delaware will lose their jobs as the result of the merger, which will be voted on at special meeting of Wilmington Trust shareholders on March 22 in Wilmington.

The layoffs represent roughly one fourth of Wilmington Trust’s work force.

M&T board chairman and CEO Robert Wilmers called Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on Tuesday night to inform him of the layoffs.

“M&T has explained that its planned reduction of the Wilmington Trust work force is a result of significant outside forces, including a very challenging real estate loan portfolio,” Markell said in a statement issued Wednesday. “The bank’s leadership told us that it is making the changes they believe are necessary for a strong foundation for future growth in Delaware.”

Markell said that upon closing of the deal, M&T will have about 2,500 employees in Delaware, making it one of the state’s largest employers.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said he was saddened to hear of the impending layoffs.

“While I am hopeful that most of the Wilmington Trust employees will be able to keep their jobs under this merger, it is obviously disappointing news anytime hardworking employees lose their jobs through no fault of their own, and my thoughts are with these employees and their families during this difficult time,” Carper said in a prepared statement.

Wilmington Trust spokeswoman Megen Morris referred questions to M&T spokesman Mike Zabel, who did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

M&T shares fell 82 cents to $88.40 in afternoon trading, while Wilmington Trust shares lost a penny to $4.44.

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