325 Mergers In 03; Most In Decade

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The urge to merge was hard to resist for credit unions last year.

NCUA approved 325 credit union mergers in 2003, the most in a decade. While those mergers erased another 194 small credit unions under $5 million in assets from the map, increasing numbers of larger credit unions are also choosing to combine, with 33 of last year's mergers involving both credit unions over $30 million.

Over the past three years more than 950 credit unions have been eliminated through mergers, including some 540 small credit unions.

Among the largest mergers approved last year were:

* TRW Systems FCU, Manhattan Beach, Calif. ($500 million), serving Northrup Grumman Corp. and numerous select groups, merged with Western FCU in Los Angeles ($510 million), formed around Delta Airlines employees.

* First Tech CU, Beaverton, Ore. ($1.4 billion) serving hundreds of high-tech groups, merged with Oregon Metro CU, Portland ($40 million) serving Lane County, Ore,

* Pentagon FCU, Alexandria, Va. ($5.8 billion), serving the military, merged with Ft. Hood Military FCU ($45 million), serving Ft. Hood, Texas. It was Pentagon's fourth merger over the past two years.

* GTE FCU, Tampa, Fla. ($1.3 billion) serving hundreds of SEGs, merged with Marion County FCU, Ocala ($75 million), serving local communities.

* John Deere Community CU, Waterloo, Iowa ($850 million), serving residents of Waterloo, Iowa, merged with Deere Community CU, Ankeny, Iowa ($95 million), serving residents of Ankeny.

* Orange County's CU, Santa Ana, Calif. ($700 million), serving Orange County, Calif., merged with Coastline Community CU, Long Beach ($45 million), serving several coastal comminutes.

* Qualstar CU, Bellevue, Wash. ($270 million), serving the entire state of Washington, merged with MetroPacific CU, in Seattle ($40 million), serving a local community.

* The Summit FCU, Rochester, N.Y. ($280 million), serving hundreds of SEGs, merged with Buffalo Telephone Employees FCU ($60 million), serving Buffalo area telephone employees.

Probably the most interesting merger involves the ongoing roll-up of one of the biggest surviving credit union families, the 24 credit unions spread around the country serving employees and agents for State Farm Insurance into 13 credit unions. Approved in December were the combinations of State Farm Illinois FCU, in Bloomington, Ill. ($500 million) with both Michigan Office, State Farm FCU, in Marshall, Mich. ($90 million), as well as Southern Illinois Schools FCU, in Herrin, Ill ($15 million).

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