Another Big Florida CU Merger

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LAKELAND, Fla. – MidFlorida CU, one of the state’s healthiest big credit unions, has agreed to acquire troubled Bay Gulf FCU, a one-time $210 million institution, the latest in a series of large credit union mergers shaking up the market in the Sunshine State.

The deal comes a year after MidFlorida’s agreement to acquire troubled Sarasota Coastal FCU and its network of Gulf Coast branches fell apart (Sarasota Coastal eventually merged into Achieva CU). The Bay Gulf merger will give the $1.1 billion credit union seven locations in Sarasota and Hillsborough counties on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“Kevin Jones (MidFlorida’s CEO) and I have been talking about a merger for several years now and my board gave me permission to start formal negotiations and we came to an agreement,” said William DeMare, president of the credit union, which lost $4.4 million in 2008 and $2.1 million in 2009, and $825,000 for the first quarter of 2010.

DeMare predicted a return to profitability for the Bay Gulf operations, even as the credit union is merged out. “We expect to report a net for the second quarter, “ he told the Credit Union Journal this morning. But he lamented the condition of the local economy, one of the worst real estate markets in the country. “It’s a deep hole and the economy in our area is not rebounding the same as in other parts of the country.”

DeMare, 67, who worked his way up from volunteer director, to chairman of the board, to president and CEO in 1999, plans to retire after the merger.

The merger is the latest Florida combination involving big credit unions, including Eastern Financial Florida CU into Space Coast CU; Sarasota Coastal CU into Achieva FCU and more recently, Keys FCU into Dade County FCU.

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