USA Federal Credit Union, a small credit union chartered to serve Navy personnel in the San Diego area, said Monday it will be bought by Navy Federal Credit Union, one of several bidders for the ailing institution.

USA Federal, chartered in 1953 to serve employees at a Navy training center, was hurt by the real estate bust. It has reported losses of more than $45 million during the past two-and-a-half years as its net worth declined. Assets were $604 million at midyear.

Under the deal, Virginia-based Navy Federal, the world's largest credit union, with more than $42 billion of assets, will retain USA Federal's 19 branches, including eight in the San Diego and Riverside, Calif., areas, that do not overlap with Navy Fed's 13 branches in the region, as well as all of its 206 employees. The deal requires regulatory approval; the companies said joint operations could begin by Oct. 1.

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