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WLNG
March 29, 2006

Kanas Speaks Out On Future Of Employees



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North Fork Bancorporation President, Chairman, and CEO John Kanas shepherds a rich North Fork legacy into an international future. Independent / Photo courtesy of North Fork Bancorporation (click for larger version)
Two weeks after the announcement that North Fork Bancorporation will soon be acquired by Capitol One and North Fork area employees began to question their job security, North Fork Bank Chairman, President, and CEO John Kanas stepped forward to quell the uncertainty in an exclusive interview with The Independent.

Kanas said he spent time recently at North Fork Bancorporation's Mattituck operations center, where close to 300 employees have expressed concerns for their future.

He said "nothing changes" for those involved in NFB's branches, including banking managers and those involved with lending and business development functions. "It will be business as usual."

After the acquisition, NFB will be part of a larger company that will be supporting new business efforts with "a lot more marketing money." With busier bank branches, Kanas said staff increases will be necessary.

Because Capitol One has bank branches only with its Hibernia Bank subsidiary in Louisiana and Texas, many North Fork employees feared for behind-the-scenes positions such as those at the operations center.

Kanas admitted there could be a loss of jobs. "Some of those functions will eventually disappear, and others will not," he said. "It's far too early to tell which ones and when. It's probably two years away before we start thinking about any major impact on the operations center."

To ease concerns, Kanas has given his word to his employees. "Those people have heard me say that if their jobs are someday eliminated, there is a provision in the merger agreement that more than adequately takes care of them." There is a "large sum of money set aside" to augment severance programs.

"Many of those people have been working with me for 25 or 35 years," said Kanas. "They got this company where it is today. This company has no intention of leaving them on the rocks, high and dry. We will be completely taking care of our employees at all costs."

On the day the $14.6 billion dollar deal was announced the numbers amounted to $31.18 a share, $11.25 of which will be paid in cash and the balance in Capitol One stock.

"I always knew that the day would come," said Kanas. "I'm just happy that it's come in the context of a transaction where our employees have a future." 

He told NFB employees in Mattituck, "If you want to think about the fact that I had to give up the name to preserve a future for the organization, that's okay — that's a fair trade. Although it's going to be emotionally difficult, honestly, it's the right thing for the most people."

Officially, the acquisition is slated to take place probably either late in the third or early in the fourth quarter, most likely in October. After the closing of the deal, Kanas promised to stay on for a minimum of three years.

The acquisition marks the end of an era for locals who have long done business with North Fork Bank, an institution with a history deeply rooted in North Fork soil.

The legacy began with the founding of Southold Savings Bank in 1858. Later, Mattituck Bank was born in 1905. First National Bank of Cutchogue was founded in 1924, and, in 1950, the North Fork Bank & Trust Company was created through consolidation of both institutions.

North Fork Bancorporation was formed in 1980, and North Fork Bank & Trust Company became its first subsidiary in 1981. In 1992, North Fork Bank & Trust Company was merged into Southold Savings to form North Fork Bank.

The latest step is one that ensures that North Fork Bancorporation, with its homespun local roots, gets a spot on the burgeoning international canvas — Capitol One has operations in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Spain. 

"When I think about it that way, it makes me feel terrific," said Kanas. "Because now, North Fork Bancorporation really does continue on indefinitely. I think everyone here is very proud of what they've created."

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