Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union of Honolulu is moving ahead with expansion on two fronts: it merged a small, ailing CU and is opening its first out-state-branch in Las Vegas purchasing a Silver State Schools CU facility.
The $725 million Hawaii CU said it expects to open its Las Vegas branch Nov. 1 as part of a growth strategy to reach the estimated 140,000 former island residents, retirees and tourists.
Aloha Pacific called the Silver State branch acquisition "a groundbreaking move" considering the expansion represents the first mainland branch by any Hawaii CU.
A spokesman said, however, there are no current plans to buy additional Las Vegas property and no mention was made of merger prospects of ailing Nevada CUs.
For its part, the troubled Silver State, Nevada's largest, has been on a retrenchment for the last two years, closing branches, reducing assets and last February borrowed $22 million from its private insurer, American Share Insurance Inc.
Regarding the Hawaii merger, Aloha Pacific said effective Aug. 17 it has taken over the struggling $1.8 million Word of Life FCU of Honolulu.
Word of Life founded in 2002 with one branch and 1,000 members serves The Word Of Life Church and Christian Center. Aloha Pacific said it has closed the branch and the CU's employees have taken jobs with Aloha Pacific.
Word of Life is the third merger in three years for Aloha Pacific "and represents a wonderful opportunity for both credit unions," said Wallace Y. Watanabe, president/CEO.
The Aloha Pacific CEO told a Honolulu newspaper his CU would be satisfied "to get 10% of the 140,000 Hawaiians in Las Vegas" as it competes with both large Nevada and Hawaii banks. Also he said Aloha Pacific's philosophy is to become aggressive when other financial institutions are curtailing operations.