Coronavirus scuttles major credit union-bank deal

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The coronavirus outbreak has scuttled the largest-ever credit union acquisition of a bank.

Suncoast Credit Union, an $11 billion-asset institution in Tampa, Fla., agreed in December to buy the $747 million-asset Apollo Bank in Miami. But a statement from the bank said “a series of indefinite delays that arose during the regulatory approval process due to the COVID-19 pandemic” caused the deal to be called off.

“These unforeseen delays made proceeding with the merger untenable,” the statement added. “While disappointed by this development, both Suncoast and Apollo are keeping focused on providing trusted guidance and support to our clients and communities during this critical time.”

The agreement "has been in the process of regulatory review and approval; however, the economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has forced us to re-examine our plan," Kevin Johnson, Suncoast's CEO, said in a separate statement.

Apollo Bank, led by CEO Eddy Arriola, agreed late last year to sell to a credit union.

"Both parties have come to an amicable agreement with no harm or malice, believing that the current conditions no longer represent a viable option that would allow the acquisition to move forward," Johnson added.

The Suncoast-Apollo deal capped a record year for credit union-bank mergers. But the pace of deals was slowing in the early months of 2020 even before the coronavirus pandemic spread. In January, state regulators in Colorado blocked Elevations Credit Union’s bid to purchase the assets of Cache Bank & Trust, claiming state laws do not explicitly permit different types of financial institutions to purchase others.

In early March, Iowa bank regulators attempted to block a credit union from buying a handful of branches from a bank in the state. But the bank involved ultimately came to an agreement with the regulator.

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