The second-largest Kansas-chartered credit union said Monday it has entered into a merger agreement with a smaller, Wichita credit union.
Credit Union of America said it is hoping to complete a merger with First Choice Credit Union by the end of the year or early next year.
The merger will create a credit union with more than $450 million in assets and 47,000 members. Credit Union of America will be the surviving entity.
Bob Thurman, CEO of CUA, said his credit union wasn't actively looking to merge with another credit union but there is a "good cultural fit between our organizations... and it brings their (First Choice) members a broader network of facilities and products."
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Some of the offerings that CUA has that First Choice doesn't are mortgage and small business lending. CUA is also preparing to roll-out a mobile banking service, Thurman said.
First Choice has three branches and a student branch at Maize High School. CUA has nine-full service branches in Wichita, Derby and Great Bend, as well as an employee-only branch at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis and a student branch at Wichita Southeast High School.
Thurman said the merger was partly the result of the planned retirement of First Choice CEO Linda Nicholson.
Nicholson wasn't available for comment Monday but said in a news release that "this is a great opportunity for our two cooperatives to come together."
Thurman said the merger will bring CUA greater market share and economies of scale.
"They've done a good job and been a successful organization," he said of First Choice.
Thurman said successful closing of the merger will require regulatory approval and a vote by membership of both credit unions.
He said that he anticipates all of First Choice's branches will be retained, as will its 27 employees.
"They're fairly lean so I think it's going to be easy for us to incorporate all their operations and people," Thurman said.
First Choice was chartered in 1951 as a credit union exclusively serving employees of Safeway grocery stores. It changed its name and broadened its membership base in 1987. According to the National Credit Union Administration it has more than $72 million in assets and 8,400 members.
CUA was started in 1935 as a teachers' credit union. It has $378 million in assets and more than 36,500 members, according to NCUA data.