Business as usual in credit union merger

Credit union executives and guests were present at the Carson City groundbreaking.

Credit union executives and guests were present at the Carson City groundbreaking.

The parent company of a growing northern Nevada credit union has merged with a larger national partner, but the deal should have no effect on its local members.

United Federal Credit Union and Lake Michigan Credit Union announced Oct. 14 that they plan to join forces in what could be the largest-ever merger between two credit unions.

United Federal will change its name to United Credit Union when the merger is complete and both credit unions are consolidated under Lake Michigan’s state charter.

The merger will have a negligible effect on the company’s northern Nevada operations or workforce, said a UFCU spokesman.

“Members in Nevada won’t see very much change,” said Charles Spilman, director of marketing, in an email “They will have access to additional services and technology as the two organizations come together and expand.”

He said no purchase price was given in an earlier news release because credit union mergers typically aren’t a “purchase” type transaction. “It’s a mutual agreement to combine (resources),” said Spilman.

The combination of United Federal, which is based in St. Joseph, Michigan and Lake Michigan, headquartered in Grand Rapids, also would create one of the nation’s 20 largest credit unions in terms of assets.

It would have more than 500,000 members, more than $6 billion in total assets and more than $8 billion in its mortgage-service portfolio. The combined organization will employ 1,400 people in 78 locations across seven states.

United Federal, organized in 1949, has a history that includes mergers of credit unions that once served Whirlpool Corp. and Clark Equipment workers.

The credit union has grown beyond its original hub and now employs 540 people in Michigan as well as Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio.

Banking on the northern Nevada region in terms of future growth, United earlier this year broke ground for a new branch at The Summit mall and opened its first in-store branch at the Walmart Supercenter at Firecreek Crossing Shopping Center.

Demand has also encouraged United Federal Credit Union to locate in Carson City. The company recently broke ground on a new location in the capital city at William and State streets. The credit union branch building going up will have 7,500 square feet of space and the branch will employ about 10.

United began doing business in the area in 2009 when it agreed to acquire Clearstar Financial Credit Union in Reno. The National Credit Union Association asked that UFCU, a well-capitalized multi-state credit union, take over the troubled Clearstar, which was buffeted by the economic downturn, said a local executive in a previous interview with the NNBW. With that move, UFCU acquired a book of business and absorbed Clearstar employees into the fold. Its membership base included employees from the Washoe County School District.


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