First Niagara Financial Group Inc. will eliminate about 300 of 1,104 jobs at Harleysville National Corp. after it completes the purchase of the Montgomery County bank, First Niagara said yesterday in a regulatory filing with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.

The job cuts, expected to begin in March, will eliminate duplicate positions at Harleysville's headquarters on Main Street in Harleysville and at a Maple Glen branch and mortgage operations center, a spokeswoman for First Niagara, of Buffalo, said.

The spokeswoman, Leslie Garrity, said the cuts represented 75 percent of the support and administrative jobs at Harleysville. The local bank was ordered by regulators last year to raise capital because of severe weakness in its portfolio of loans to homebuilders.

First Niagara, with $14.6 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, agreed in July to pay $237 million in stock for Harleysville, estimating that it could trim 10 percent of Harleysville's operating expenses.

Harleysville this week reported a fourth-quarter profit of $2.8 million, but it lost $219.5 million for the full year.

The bank, with $5.2 billion in assets, also reported that the quality of its loan book, while still weak, had stabilized.

Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker

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