The $380 million Credit Union of America, which last month closed on a deal to buy the headquarters building of the Kansas Credit Union Association, is now merging a competitor in Wichita, the $73 million First Choice CU.
CUA said the proposed merger agreement with First Choice came up in the last 30 days “on a request from their board” and follows the planned retirement of First Choice President/CEO Linda Nicholson.
“It is a great opportunity for us in being able to expand and for First Choice in being able to offer more convenience and a tech-oriented product line,” said Jane Hammil, chief administrative officer of CUA, the state’s second-largest credit union.
Last month CUA said it needed more space at its main office in Wichita, striking a deal with KCUA to buy its offices, with the trade group relocating to rented property several miles away. Terms were not disclosed.
Hammil stressed that First Choice, formed in 1951 to serve employees of the Safeway grocery chain, remains healthy and that the decision to merge has been one “explored as an option” by the First Choice board. The merger pact is still subject to regulatory and member approval.
Once the planned merger is complete by year-end, CUA will have 13 Kansas offices plus two student-run branches and 47,000 members.
Previously having the Safeway name, 8,400-member First Choice, which holds a community charter, changed its name to First Choice in 1987 and now serves members in Sedgwick, Harvey and Butler counties.