Southern Arizona's largest credit union, the $1.1 billion Vantage West of Tucson, this month completed the merger of a long-troubled Phoenix CU, and the Vantage management remains at the ready for new Southwest consolidations should they come along.
"Yes, we are open to other merger prospects as long as any merger is mutually beneficial to both credit unions," said Robert D. Ramirez, the Vantage CEO, noting that his CU has remained profitable, lean and frugal during the Arizona recession.
Effective April 1, Vantage West merged with the $40 million First Edition Community CU of Phoenix, which serves 5,500 members, many employed by The Arizona Republic, the state's largest newspaper.
Ramirez said that First Edition had "done an excellent job serving its members under difficult economic circumstances" but that the consolidation would now provide benefits to both CUs.
Talks on merging First Edition into Vantage had been ongoing for a year, said Ramirez, who also is vice chairman of the Arizona Credit Union League, a director of the Credit Union Executives Society and of FirstCorp, the Phoenix corporate.
Vantage West, said Ramirez, has looked at several Arizona CU merger candidates, "but there are no concrete plans in the immediate future" for additional acquisitions. Ramirez stressed any future mergers would be "in a spirit of cooperation to ensure members of struggling credit unions" are properly served.
Vantage West's own growth is strategic and controlled, he said, with extensive due diligence performed to ensure any takeover is mutually beneficial.