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TypePublic company
S&P 500 Index component
IndustryFinancial services
Founded1825; 197 years ago (1825) in Albany, New York
HeadquartersKey Tower, Cleveland, Ohio
Number of locations
1,197 branches
Key people
Christopher M. Gorman (Chairman, CEO and President)
Donald R. Kimble, (CFO)
RevenueDecrease $6.400 billion (2019)
Decrease $1.708 billion (2019)
Total assetsIncrease $171.988 billion (2020)
Total equityIncrease $18.038 billion (2020)
Number of employees
17,999[1] (2019)
Footnotes / references

KeyBank, the primary subsidiary of KeyCorp, is a regional bank headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. It is the only major bank based in that city. KeyBank is 24th on the list of largest banks in the United States.

KeyBank's customer base spans retail, small business, corporate, and investment clients. KeyBank has 1,197 branches and 1,572 ATMs, which are in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Washington.[2] KeyCorp has business offices in 39 states.

KeyBank ranked 412th on the 2020 Fortune 500 list based on its 2019 revenue.[3]


KeyBank branch in Springboro, Ohio
Current KeyBank locations

KeyBank is the primary subsidiary of KeyCorp, which was formed in 1994 through the merger of Society Corporation of Cleveland ("Society Bank") and KeyCorp ("Old KeyCorp") of Albany, New York. The merger briefly made KeyBank the 10th largest US bank.[4][5] Its roots trace back to the National Commercial Bank of Albany, New York in 1825 and Cleveland's Society for Savings, founded in 1849.

Society Corporation (Society National Bank)[edit]

Society For Savings originated in 1849 as a mutual savings bank, founded by Samuel H. Mather. In 1867, the modest but growing bank built Cleveland's first skyscraper,[6] the 10-story Society for Savings Building on Public Square. Despite erecting the tallest structure between New York and Chicago at the time, the bank remained extremely conservative. When it celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1949, it still only had one office, although it had over $200 million in deposits. This conservatism helped the bank sidestep many depressions and financial panics.

In 1958, Society converted from a mutual to a public company, which enabled it to grow quickly by acquiring 12 community banks between 1958 and 1978 under the banner Society National Bank. It went through another growth spurt from 1979 to 1989, acquiring dozens of small banks and completed four mergers worth one billion dollars, most notably Cleveland-based Central National Bank in 1986. In 1987, Society CEO Gordon E. Heffern retired and was succeeded by Robert W. Gillespie, who, although just 42, was a major figure and part of the office of the chairman for more than five years. Gillespie was also named chairman.[7] Gillespie started as a teller with Society to earn money while he was finishing his graduate studies.[8]

Society Corporation acquired Toledo-based Trustcorp in 1990[9][10] and Cleveland Trust, the major bank of holding company CleveTrust Corporation, in September 1991, a venerable Cleveland bank and Ohio's largest bank during the 1940s through the late 1970s.[11][12] The Cleveland Trust deal established Society as a large regional bank. The jewel of Cleveland Trust was its robust personal and corporate trust businesses. However, its footing became unsteady due to bad real estate loans, forcing the resignation of Cleveland Trust chairman Jerry V. Jarrett in 1990.[13] Moreover, Gillespie was able to outbid Society's larger rival, National City Corp., which also bid for Cleveland Trust.[14]

Merger of Society and Key (1994)[edit]

Although Gillespie had built Society into a regional powerhouse in the Midwest, he wanted to move the bank into the big leagues. He concluded Key, a bank with similar ambitions, was a suitable partner. Society and Key held talks in 1990 at Gillespie's prompting, but Riley decided to stay the course of smaller, more lucrative acquisitions with obvious synergies. Yet, news reports swirled that a possible merger was in the works in the fall of 1993. Key was founded in Albany, New York in 1825 as the National Commercial Bank, and had become the 29th largest U.S. bank with $26 billion in assets, while Society was the 25th largest with $32 billion in assets.[4] Both needed a merger to improve their prospects. For its part, Key needed a succession plan due to the lack of an obvious successor to the 62-year-old Riley. In one week in June 1993, the bench had become barren – Chief Banking Officer James Waterston, hired the year before, quit and publicly stated that he was frustrated with the pace of achieving his goal of running a large bank. The head of KeyBank of Washington, Hans Harjo, was pushed out over an apparent dispute to move its headquarters from Seattle to Tacoma.[15] It also became clear that Key had to undertake a technology infrastructure upgrade to connect its far-flung offices. Meanwhile, Society was in search of higher growth and longed to expand its presence outside of the so-called Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

The merger was announced in early October 1993. This time it was Riley who made the first move; he called Gillespie while recuperating at his Albany home after breaking his hip in a horse-riding accident in Wyoming. The two quickly sketched out the deal. The banks were roughly the same size in assets and had very little geographic overlap, so it was touted as an out-of-market merger in which few branches needed to be sold off. It created a $58 billion banking behemoth with a footprint that stretched from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. Furthermore, the deal plugged many of the perceived holes for both partners.[16] The soft-spoken Gillespie was just 49 and Society had cultivated a deep bench of lieutenants. More importantly, Society had the computer systems and technology expertise to combine the two banks, along with Chief Information Officer Allen J. Gula.[17] Riley also lamented the modest Albany International Airport, which lost service from several major airlines in the 1980s and complicated air travel for Key executives. Ohio also had lower state taxes than New York. Lastly, Society had recently built Society Center (now Key Tower), a 947-foot skyscraper that was more commensurate with a major bank headquarters than the modest buildings used in Albany. These issues made Cleveland the preferable location for the merged bank's headquarters. Conversely, Key's brand was more recognizable.

The deal was structured as a merger of equals. The merged bank took the KeyCorp name, and operates under the charter of the old KeyCorp. However, Society was the nominal survivor; the merged bank was headquartered in Cleveland, and retains Society's pre-1994 stock price history. The Society name continued to be used in Society's former footprint for an additional two years before it was retired in June 1996 and the charters were merged.

Riley became chairman and CEO of KeyCorp and Gillespie became president and chief operating officer. Despite assurances from both Riley and Gillespie, the city of Albany and then-Governor Mario Cuomo openly fretted that the merger would be bad for the state capital since Key and its subsidiaries owned or leased more than 10% of Albany's commercial office space.[18] By 2014, only about 225 non-branch employees were still based in Albany at the KeyCorp Tower.[19]

Riley planned to retire as CEO at the end of 1995.[20] He decided to accelerate it by four months, however, instead stepping down on September 1, 1995. Gillespie took the helm as CEO and later chairman, allowing his protege Henry Meyer to become COO and later president.

Further transformation[edit]

While still integrating Society and Key, Gillespie attempted to turn Key into a financial services powerhouse. Between 1995 and 2001, Gillespie initiated nine significant acquisitions and 6 divestitures.[21]

In late 1998, Key bought Cleveland-based brokerage firm, McDonald & Co. for $653 million in stock.[22] The McDonald acquisition was the largest non-banking deal in both size and impact on Key. McDonald was sold to the U.S. investment arm of UBS AG in 2007 for roughly $280 million.[23] As a result, Key began processing all subsequent securities transactions under its new broker-dealer name, "KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc", in April 2007.

However, investors became wary of all the Gillespie-era deals. Some believed that Gillespie was making all the moves to cover up poor performance, although in hindsight that appears to be far from truth. The concept was dubbed "burning the furniture", implying that Key would sell an asset to obfuscate earnings. For instance, Key sold its residential mortgage servicing to Countrywide Financial (now Bank of America Home Loans) in 1995, shareholder services in 1996, various chunks of the bank in 1997–1999 (i.e. Wyoming, Florida, and Long Island), and credit card operations to The Associates in 2000 (which was quickly thereafter acquired by Citigroup).

But Gillespie was attempting to increase fee-income by acquiring high-growth businesses, including McDonald and equipment financing firm Leastec, and decreasing the exposure to the bank's shrinking population base in its primary footprint, so-called rust belt states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Gillespie resigned from the CEO position on February 1, 2001, and then as chairman at the annual meeting on May 17 during which he was replaced by Henry Meyer.[24]


In October 2008, Key received approximately $2.5 billion in investment from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.[25] In March 2011, Key was one of the last major banks to pay back TARP funds.[26]

In July 2014 KeyBank announced its intention to acquire Pacific Crest Securities, the technology-focused investment bank known for its expertise on major shifts driven by internet, mobility, cloud and SaaS as well as its Technology Leadership Forum held in Vail, CO every August and a first of its kind private SaaS company survey which has become a standard for reporting business performance benchmarking information. Pacific Crest was integrated it into KeyBanc Capital Markets in 2015.[27]

In January 2015, KeyBank participated in the construction debt financing syndicate behind the Balko Wind Project purchased from Apex Clean Energy by D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments.[28]

On July 29, 2016, KeyCorp acquired First Niagara Bank for $4.1 billion in cash and stock.[29] The deal strengthened Key's position in Upstate New York and New England, as well as entering Pennsylvania for the first time with a presence in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The deal made Key one of the largest banks in Pittsburgh, and gave it branches that were once part of crosstown rival National City Corp., which Key tried to acquire from PNC Financial Services following the National City acquisition by PNC in 2008 before being outbid by First Niagara.[30][31] As a result, KeyCorp now held much of the core of what had been Marine Midland Bank, old KeyCorp's longtime rival. Five years earlier, First Niagara had acquired most of the upstate New York branch network of HSBC Bank USA, which had changed its name from Marine Midland in 1999; as mentioned above, Key had acquired 37 HSBC branches in 2012.

As part of the transaction, 18 First Niagara branches in Erie County, and Niagara County were sold to Northwest Savings Bank for antitrust reasons.[32]

KeyBank continues to play an important role in the regional economy of Cleveland, having 6,400 employees.[33]

In 2019, KeyBank announced it will be opening its first tellerless branch on May 13, 2019, in Boulder, Colorado. Instead of teller lines, the branch features private offices where clients can interact with bankers trained as "financial wellness consultants".[34]

In May 2022, KeyBank announced that it had acquired GradFin, a Philadelphia-based financial technology and public service loan forgiveness counseling provider.[35] The organization stated the acquisition was to aid in the company's next steps in providing digital innovation and scale through strategic partnerships with FinTechs.[36]

Logo rights[edit]

Some Buildings around the US have the logo and name of the bank:

The Key Tower is a 947 ft skyscraper and is named after the KeyBank company since 2005.

Naming rights[edit]

KeyBank owns corporate naming rights to the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. Key acquired the rights as part of its purchase of First Niagara. The arena is home to the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League.

On April 11, 1995, the city of Seattle sold the naming rights of the Seattle SuperSonics' home arena (previously called Seattle Center) to KeyCorp for $15.1 million, which renamed it as KeyArena. After the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2009, the city and KeyCorp signed a new deal for a two-year term that ended December 31, 2010, at an annual fee of $300,000.[37] The company did not further renew the naming rights and the building is now known as Climate Pledge Arena.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "KeyCorp". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  2. ^ a b "KeyCorp 2019 Annual Report Form and 10-K" (PDF). KeyBank.
  3. ^ "KeyCorp". Fortune. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  4. ^ a b Hansell, Saul (October 2, 1993). "A Keycorp-Society Merger Is Expected to Be Disclosed". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Keycorp Merger Forms 10Th-Largest Bank -- Stock Swap With Society To Create $58 Billion-Asset Megabank". The Seattle Times. Bloomberg L.P. October 4, 1993.
  6. ^ Gerlak, Frank (2007-09-27). "History of Cleveland's Skyscrapers". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  7. ^ Executive Profile: Robert W. Gillespie
  8. ^ Pusey, Roger (October 5, 1993). "Merger Won't Change Key Bank". Deseret News.
  9. ^ "Trustcorp and Society To Merge in Stock Deal". The New York Times. Associated Press. June 20, 1989.
  10. ^ "Trustcorp to merge with Society Corp. of Cleveland". United Press International. June 19, 1989.
  11. ^ Quint, Michael (September 14, 1991). "Society Corp. in Ohio to Acquire Cleveland Trust". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Society buys Cleveland Trust in $1.2 billion deal". United Press International. September 13, 1991.
  13. ^ "Chairman Quits At Ameritrust". The New York Times. Associated Press. August 30, 1990.
  14. ^ Quint, Michael (May 21, 1991). "National City Makes Bid for Cleveland Trust". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Gupta, Himanee (June 24, 1993). "Successor To Key Bank Chairman Is Picked". The Seattle Times.
  16. ^ Hansell, Saul (October 5, 2003). "Keycorp-Society Deal Is Merger of Equals". The New York Times.
  17. ^ "Executive Profile: Allen J. Gula Jr". Bloomberg L.P.
  18. ^ "Albany Officials Gloomy Over Bank Company's Merger and Move". The New York Times. October 10, 1993.
  19. ^ DeMasi, Michael (July 23, 2014). "A new push to fill downtown Albany's biggest office buildings". American City Business Journals.
  20. ^ Pusey, Roger (May 18, 1995). "KeyCorp aims to become 'First Choice' in finance". Deseret News.
  21. ^ Turner, Shawn A. (October 23, 2006). "Key poised to resume bank acquisitions". Crain Communications.
  22. ^ "KeyCorp to Acquire McDonald for $653 Million". The New York Times. June 16, 1998.
  23. ^ Turner, Shawn A. (September 6, 2006). "Key to sell McDonald Investments in $280M deal". Crain's Cleveland Business.
  24. ^ "Gillespie will retire as KeyCorp CEO". Albany Business Review. January 18, 2001.
  25. ^ Mezger, Roger (October 27, 2008). "KeyCorp plans to use bailout money to be a buyer". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland.
  26. ^ "KeyCorp to repay TARP; prices $625 mln offering". Reuters. March 11, 2011.
  27. ^ Johnson, Andrew R. (2014-07-17). "KeyCorp to Buy Pacific Crest Securities as Profit Rises". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  28. ^ "D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments Acquires 300-MW Balko Wind from Apex Clean Energy" (Press release). Apex Clean Energy. January 12, 2015 – via Business Wire.
  29. ^ "KeyCorp Closes Acquisition Of First Niagara Financial Group" (Press release). PR Newswire. July 29, 2016.
  30. ^ Sabatini, Patricia (March 21, 2009). "FNB won't buy National City units". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  31. ^ Fleischer, Chris (October 30, 2015). "KeyCorp buying First Niagara". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  32. ^ Glynn, Matt (April 28, 2016). "KeyCorp to sell 18 First Niagara branches to Northwest". The Buffalo News.
  33. ^ Exner, Rich. "Ohio's 100 largest employers - 2019 rankings led by Cleveland Clinic, Walmart, others". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  34. ^ Nobile, Jeremy (2019-04-05). "KeyBank rolling out new tellerless branches — just not in Ohio". Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  35. ^ "Retail Banking Company KeyBank Acquires GradFin". 2022-05-09. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  36. ^ "KeyBank announced the acquisition of GradFin". IBS Intelligence. 10 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  37. ^ "Ordinance 122944". Seattle City Clerk. March 30, 2009.
  38. ^ Lamm, Greg (April 19, 2013). "KeyArena no more?". American City Business Journals.

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