It's been nearly eight months now since plans for the nation's biggest credit union merger, the $4.6 billion consolidation of First Tech CU and Addison Avenue FCU, was unveiled--and there is still no word on any regulatory approval.
Back in March the top brass of both CUs forecast regulatory action "some time this summer" with formal member approval by First Tech to follow.
This month in parallel website explanations, the CEO and interim CEO of both CUs cited the "unique" nature of the merger of two healthy institutions and said "very productive conversations continue with the regulators."
Brooke Van Vleet, interim president/CEO of the $2.2 billion First Tech of Beaverton, Ore., wrote, "The regulators are thoroughly reviewing our application to determine if the proposed merger is in the best interests of our members, our employees and the credit union overall before they make a final decision."
And Benson Porter, CEO of the $2.4 billion Addison Avenue FCU of Palo Alto, Calif., said in his message to members that while First Tech members will be doing the voting following the federal charter switch, "we've been hard at work on integration planning to make the transition as smooth and easy as possible for you."
For months, First Tech has been conducting "town hall" meetings to familiarize employees with the conversion as well as preparing voter guides.
On that, Van Fleet wrote: "Once we receive regulatory approval, we'll send you a voter's guide that contains all the information you need to make an informed vote. The voter's guide is not your official voter's packet. We'll distribute your official voter's packet approximately two weeks after the voter's guide and then you'll have 30 days from then to cast your vote."
And echoing Porter, Van Vleet also said, "We're committed to continuing to provide you the level of service you've come to expect from First Tech."
Industry analysts said they saw no sign yet of any financial roadblocks for the merger going forward. However, as one put it, in merger proposals of this size and complexity, "these things can get caught up in ego and culture wars." Both CUs have extensive SEG operations through branch networks in several Western states.
Meanwhile, the NCUA said only the First Tech/Addison Avenue application is still being studied. "This application is still under review at the regional level," said John McKechnie, NCUA director of public and congressional affairs.