ATLANTA -- It's a road Delta Community Credit Union has been down before.
Speculation is swirling yet again that Delta Air Lines may be considering a merger, this time with Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines. On Jan. 19, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing unnamed sources, reported that a deal between the two was imminent. Both carriers have not confirmed or denied merging. However, Delta CEO Richard Anderson did tell the company's employees that consolidation is an option, according to a Jan. 22 Bloomberg article. Northwest CEO Doug Steenland said in a memo to workers the same day that the airline must "consider the options available to us."
Meanwhile, the $2.5 billion Delta Community CU, which has served the airline for nearly 70 years, is prepared to deal with whatever the future holds.
"We stand ready to meet the financial needs of Delta's employees now and in the future regardless of the outcome of the current merger discussions," said Todd Marksberry, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Delta Community CU. "We have proudly supported Delta and its employees for more than 60 years [and] we have made adjustments to our own business strategy along the way to maintain our financial strength and independence as economic and market conditions evolve."
Some of those adjustments included a name change in 2005 from Delta Employees Credit Union to its current moniker. The new brand was a reflection of the credit union's growing expansion to serving beyond its Delta Air Lines sponsor to more than 100 select employee groups and ten counties in Georgia. Since its name change, Delta Community CU has built several branches and now has a total of nine in the Atlanta area with another three scheduled for completion by this summer. Members are also served at branches in Salt Lake City, Southlake, Texas, Florence, Ky., and Cincinnati.
A strong capital base and solid financial results in 2007 helped the credit union recently reward its membership with $10 million in dividends and interest rebates. The Patronage Dividend amounted to bonus payments to members of 7.50% of calendar 2007 dividends paid. The Patronage Refund represented 5.50% of the loan interest paid by members in 2007. These funds were taken directly from the credit union's capital account, according to Delta Community CU. Over the past three years, members have received more than $20 million in dividends.
On. Jan. 2, the credit union unveiled a new logo that conveys a message of forward movement but still remembering the past. The logo is an evolution of the original Delta triangle and honors the credit union's heritage as Delta Air Lines' employee credit union founded 68 years ago by eight Delta employees. The blue in Delta pays homage to the credit union's Delta history and the green represents the communities it now serves and future growth opportunities. An overlapping, translucent triangle-inspired shape represents wings. The logo will be phased in over the next few months.
"With this mark, Delta Community acknowledges the origins of flight but also looks ahead to the possibility and progress that flight represents," said Mary Olson, vice president of marketing. "The new logo conveys growth, progress and movement, which are key to the welcoming yet contemporary personality of Delta Community."
In 2006, Delta Community CU found itself in the midst of a hostile takeover bid between Delta Air Lines and US Airways. After months of back and forth discussions and two, separate multi-billion dollar offers, US Airways eventually withdrew its final $10 billion bid. At the time Rick Foley, president/CEO of Delta Community CU, applauded Delta Air Lines for standing firm in remaining independent. The carrier emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2007.
Marksberry said Delta Air Lines, like other companies, may be thinking about long-term options for sustainability.
"As any company does over time, we believe Delta is considering such a transaction as part of its ongoing effort to keep its business strong, and this should ultimately benefit the company's employees as well as the communities where it operates," Marksberry said.
The $1.8 billion Wings Financial CU, which was originally chartered to serve Northwest Airlines, did not want to comment on "speculation about what might or might not happen." In 2007, Wings Financial expanded its membership through partnerships with four airline carriers.
Marksberry said Delta Air Lines is doing as much as it can to keep employees informed.
"Delta's management team has done a great job of keeping its employees as well as the general public up to speed on its potential merger with another airline, and we know nothing more than what has been shared publicly to date," Marksberry said.