Western Bridge Seeks New Charter, Keeps Open Merger Possibilities
Disappointed that its preferred plan for going forward-merging with Members United-appeared to win negative notice from NCUA, Western Bridge nonetheless recently issued a forward-looking statement that indicated it planned to pursue a new charter, thus fulfilling NCUA's instruction to bridges to "transition to [an] independently operating corporate."
This action has met with broad member support, said the Western Bridge Member Advisory Council in a statement where it announced that 80 credit unions (94%) voted in favor of the recommendation. "We are very pleased with the level of participation by the members of the Advisory Council and the results of the vote set a clear direction for a new corporate entity," said Jim Updike, CEO of Honda FCU and chairman of the Western Bridge Corporate Member Advisory Executive Committee.
The decision to pursue the charter was taken after NCUA signaled its disapproval of mergers of Tier 1 corporates. In the aftermath of that statement, key Western Bridge board members met with NCUA. A few days later NCUA issued a policy position that stated, "Such a consolidation would only be considered after the bridge corporates transition to independently operating corporate."
Similarly, a statement issued last week by the New York Corporate Services Task Force offered a strong recommendation to New York credit unions to support reconstituting the charter for Members United Bridge Corporate.
Does this mean a merger of Western Bridge and Members United might still happen? Scott Waite, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Patelco Credit Union and vice chairman of the Western Bridge Executive Committee, said in an interview: "I still think merging Western Bridge and Members United would make good sense."