RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The two largest credit unions in Riverside County, Calif., on Thursday announced their intention to merge to create a $1.1 billion institution serving 118,000 members in the "Inland Empire" region of Southern California.

Visterra Credit Union, headquartered in Moreno Valley, Calif., currently has $335.6 million in assets and approximately 34,000 members. Altura Credit Union, here, has $757.3 million in assets and nearly 84,000 members.

Altura CU would be the surviving institution.

The two institutions said their agreement to merge has been approved by both boards of directors. Approval is pending from state and federal regulators, and Visterra CU's members must vote. If all approvals are granted, the anticipated merger date is July 1.

Altura's Operations and Technology Center, on Campus Parkway in Riverside, will serve as the merged institution's headquarters. Robert Cameron, Visterra's CEO will retire and Mark Hawkins, current CEO of Altura CU, will assume the reins of the combined credit union.

Members of Visterra's management team will join Altura's management team. In addition, all seven members of Visterra's board of directors will join Altura's board, "to ensure representative governance for all members," the two CUs said.

'Complementary Operating Philosophies'

"Our two Inland Empire-based credit unions have complementary operating philosophies and extensive knowledge of our communities," said Altura's Hawkins in a statement. "Both organizations successfully faced significant challenges as the local economy bottomed out during the 'Great Recession.' It made us realize that by merging our operations we can better leverage our resources. In this way we can more effectively meet our members' financial services needs as the local economy picks up speed."

"This merger will combine the strengths of two longtime Riverside County credit unions to expand services for our members in the Inland Empire," said Visterra's Cameron. "Additionally, the economies of scale that will result from this partnership will enable us to offer our members more competitive rates, enhanced technology, expanded products and services, as well as the convenience of more branches and ATMs."

Hawkins referred to the proposed merger as a "proactive step" for the present and the future of the two CUs and the communities they serve.

Originally chartered as March Air Force Base Credit Union, Visterra CU has been providing financial services since 1953. In 2006, the credit union changed its name to Visterra to better reflect its current field of membership, which includes March Air Reserve Base and all of Riverside County. Today, Visterra is the second-largest credit union headquartered in Riverside County.

Altura CU was chartered in 1957. It is the largest credit union headquartered in Riverside County. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Riverside and Orange counties, as well as selected cities in San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

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