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First Niagara Financial Group is promising temporarily enhanced severance benefits to two of its executives, in the event either of them is terminated within one year of when a new chief executive officer takes the helm.

The enhanced severance benefits would apply to Daniel E. Cantara, the chief banking officer, and Gregory W. Norwood, the chief financial officer. First Niagara disclosed the changes in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The enhanced severance and restricted stock unit grants were provided to each executive officer in recognition of the current and future value that each brings to First Niagara and to encourage their continued employment once a new CEO has been appointed,” First Niagara said in the filing.

First Niagara is in the midst of a search for a new CEO after the sudden departure of John R. Koelmel in mid-March by mutual agreement between the board and Koelmel.

Gary Crosby is serving as interim CEO and has indicated he does not want the job on a permanent basis.

If Cantara or Norwood – or both of them – were terminated within the new CEO’s first year on the job, each would be entitled to a severance payment of his base salary for 18 months, plus an amount equal to 150 percent of his targeted bonus amount for the year when and if the termination occurs.

Cantara and Norwood are each expected to receive a salary of $512,000 this year, and for each, the targeted short-term incentive is equal to 70 percent of base salary.

The company also awarded restricted stock units to Cantara and Norwood that vest in three years.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com