DEARBORN, Mich. -- In one of the largest credit union dividends ever, the $1.8 billion DFCU Financial will distribute $17.5 million to its members in January 2007.
The credit union went through a bruising attempt to become a mutual bank this year and part of the hangover from that attempt has been a court fight over whether the credit union has to hold a special meeting at which some or all of its board could be recalled.
The next court date is Dec. 15, and the members group that opposed the conversion, DFCU Owners United, saw the dividend as a cynical move to soften up the members who might, should the CU lose the court fight, soon be asked to vote whether or not to recall board members.
"Yeah, like how much would you pay to make us go away," said Margaret Blohm, one of the organizers of DFCU Owners United, which is a plaintiff in the suit. "Would $17 million be enough? I don't know."
Dr. Robert Chapman, chairman of the CU's board of directors, gave credit for the dividend firmly to the CU's current leadership.
"Over the last six years since DFCU's new leadership has been in place, we've been able to save millions of dollars each year by operating the credit union much more efficiently. It's because of this cost savings and the loyalty of our 160,000 members that we are now able to issue this special patronage dividend," explained Chapman.
"Given our challenging economy, the fact that DFCU Financial is able to issue a dividend, build new branches, introduce payment- and interest-free loans through the Career Transition program, and still be financially strong and well-capitalized, is testament to how well run the credit union is under the current leadership," he added.
The CU announced that the dividend would be calculated as 0.5% of members' savings and loan balances, but that all members would get at least $50. The money would be deposited in members' accounts during the week of Jan. 8, 2007.
The CU did not return calls seeking comments about the dividend as of press time.