Hundreds of layoffs looming at Wilmington Trust

The merger between Wilmington Trust employees and  M&T Bank won’t be finalized until the summer, but 721 employees know they will be out of work when the new bank takes over.

The Buffalo based bank says the lay-offs will take in what is described as “back office jobs”.  Those jobs include information technology, check and item processing, human resources, legal, compliance, marketing and administrative jobs.  Spokesman Mike Zabel says there will not be any people affected who work in customer service bank teller jobs.

M&T says the layoffs in Delaware are part of the reorganization process as the banks merge operations.  Zabel says employees will be given first chance to apply for some 521 jobs currently open in M&T operation centers throughout the mid-Atlantic.  The new company does have one such center currently operating in Millsboro.  He says there are 18 openings there.  The Millsboro office has employees 443.

Those about to be laid-off employees represent about one-fourth of the company’s 2,824 workers.  The vast majority of the jobs will be in Wilmington and New Castle County.  “This is devastating news for the people who will be losing their jobs and for the City of Wilmington, New Castle County, the State of Delaware and the region,” said Wilmington Mayor James Baker.

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The mayor added today’s layoff announcement is expected to add up to an estimated $1 million revenue loss to the city for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

Zabel says M&T is setting aside $23.1 million in severance payments.  He says the company will continue benefits and provide assistance in resume and other job development tools.

Zabel says M&T officials will remain in Wilmington for the next few days speaking with each employee.  He says it is “important to inform all employees of their status with the company.”  The possibilities of layoffs were likely as the bank consolidates its operations.  While not connected to the layoffs the move comes just weeks after Wilmington Trust posted a $720 million loss for 2010. 

M&T announced in November that it would pay about $351 million for Wilmington Trust.  Wilmington Trust shareholders will vote on the merger on March 22. Zabelsays the regulatory process is proceeding at a pace that would lead to a final merger at the end of June. 

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) says he’s closely watching the merger.  “While I’m 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,” Carper says.

The name Wilmington Trust will also eventually go away.  Zabel says the name change will be phased in over time.  He says Wilmington Trust does operate two highly profitable divisions.   The wealth advisory and corporate client divisions will continue to maintain the Wilmington Trust name.

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