Sound, Watermark in Washington State Plan Merger
Marking one of the largest mergers in years in Washington State, two Seattle area CUs, the $564 million Watermark CU and the $544 million Sound CU, are planning to merge in 2011.
The proposed transaction uniting two healthy CUs would create a footprint stretching across Puget Sound with 21 branches.
The consolidation was described as a “mergers of equals” and several years ago was one that was forecast to occur across the Northwest and in other parts of the West and in sand states, a result of the economic downturn.
In a joint statement announcing the proposed deal, Richard Brandsma, president/CEO of Sound CU based in Tacoma would become president/CEO of the combined CU. Sharon Sanford, president/CEO of Watermark, is planning to retire at year-end, said the release.
The consolidation is subject to approval of regulators and Watermark CU members.
“We explored all strategic alternatives and a partnership with Sound Credit Union presented a great opportunity,” said Bob Valentine, chair of Watermark headquartered in Seattle.
The merger would “allow the ongoing organization to better serve member/owners with 21 full-service branches from Lynnwood to Olympia.”
The two CUs share a similar history. Chartered in neighboring cities to serve telephone company employees, each has expanded membership to serve anyone who lives or works in Washington.
“Watermark wants to expand to serve its members in the South Puget Sound region. Sound has been working to expand north,” said Brandsma, “Combining the strengths from both credit unions would expand service for both membership groups through improved product lines, expanded technology offerings, and financial stability.”