Financial consumer watchdog group has asked federal regulators to reject Buffalo-based M&T Bank Corp.’s request to acquire People’s United Bank, based on what it claims is a lending practices record discriminatory practices on the part of M&T.

M&T announced the deal in February to buy Bridgeport-based People’s United in a deal valued at more than $ 7 billion.

If completed, the merger would create a regional retail banking hub with approximately $ 200 billion in assets and more than 1,100 branches in 12 states in the northeast and central Atlantic.

The merger requires regulatory approval, and New York-based Fair Finance Watch has asked the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to reject the takeover.

In an email to members of the Federal Reserve, Fair Finance Watch executive director Matthew R. Lee cited examples of discriminatory lending practices known as redlining.

He cites the most recent U.S. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act documents which indicate that in Connecticut in 2019, M&T granted two loans to white people for each denial, while only granting 1.28. ready to African Americans for every refusal.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Lee said. “This proposed merger, given the track record of the banks, is troubling and will be a litmus test for banking regulators.”

The proposed merger requires federal approval, which must include a review under the Community Reinvestment Act. There is a comment period until April 30.

Fair Finance Watch also requests that this comment period be extended.

“The comment period should be extended; evidence hearings should be held; and on the current record, the request should not be approved, ”Lee said.

Connecticut regulators must also approve the buyout and may be reluctant to see another large employer ripped off by an outside company, especially if high-paying corporate positions are moved to Buffalo.

M&T spokesman David Samberg said this was not something that should be of concern, saying the company is committed to expanding its business in Connecticut.

“As part of the transaction, People’s United’s current headquarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut will become M&T’s regional headquarters in New England, further strengthening the combined company’s commitment to Connecticut and the region,” said M&T in a press release.

Although Samberg said he couldn’t comment specifically on this challenge, he noted that M&T Bank has received the highest possible ranking from the federal government under the Community Reinvestment Act since 1982.

People’s United are no strangers to acquisitions, although it’s usually on the other end.

Over the past three years, People’s United has acquired First Connecticut Bancorp, the parent company of Farmington Bank and its longtime competitor United Bank. People’s United acquired Hartford-based United Bank in 2019 for $ 759 million.

Adam covers the towns of Enfield and Suffield. For more updates, follow Adam on Twitter: @AHushinJI and Facebook: Adam hushin.