The Florida Office of Financial Regulation has approved Florida Central Credit Union's bid to buy a Sarasota, Fla., branch from First Federal Bank of Florida.

The $400 million-asset credit union has agreed to buy certain assets, including the building, and assume certain liabilities, including roughly $11 million in consumer deposits, from First Federal. Laida Garcia, Florida Central's chief executive, declined to discuss the price. The deal still requires approval from the National Credit Union Administration.

Florida Central likes the branch's location because it is centrally located near 2,000 of the credit union's members who reside or work in or around the area, Garcia said.

The more than 600 customers of the First Federal branch will decide if they want to join Florida Central or have their accounts transferred to other First Federal locations. Florida Central must send depositors a notice to opt in, and accountholders will have the option to move their accounts to the credit union by mail, electronically or facsimile.

Buying a bank branch typically allows for quicker geographic expansion and member growth than building a new branch, said Michael Bell, a lawyer and counselor at Howard & Howard in Royal Oak, Mich.

This article first appeared on the Credit Union Journal.

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