A merger of two Oregon credit unions, the $661 Northwest Community CU of Springfield and the $148 million Mid Oregon CU of Bend, has been called off, the apparent result of management succession issues and the economy.
The actual decision to end talks “indefinitely” between the central Oregon CUs was made in June but was formally detailed in member e-mails distributed and made public last week.
The planned merger, seen as a way to add branches and enhance tech-driven services, had been announced as a letter of intent nearly a year ago and coincided with a spate of Northwest mergers led by the consolidation of First Tech CU of Portland, Ore., and Addison Avenue FCU of Palo Alto, Calif., into a $4.9 billion institution.
In its e-mail, 70,000-member Northwest Community said it had “researched a possible merger opportunity” with 21,000-member Mid Oregon for months but that it was “recently decided that this not the right time to proceed.”
“Upcoming changes in our leadership and the state of the economy are two significant pieces of our decision,” said the newsletter.
With the retirement of former CEO Helen Byrnes, “we felt that a merger would have forced us to make a rushed decision about who our future leader would be. We need to be certain that our new leader is someone who fully understands our mission and philosophy.”
In July Northwest Community named John Iglesias, the former head of the $330 million Salal CU of Seattle, as its new CEO.
In mentioning the management shakeup, the Bend Bulletin noted over the weekend that last March Byrnes, the ex-CEO had “unexpectedly resigned to care for her ailing husband, prompting Northwest to search for a new president and CEO.”
Bill Anderson, Mid Oregon CEO, was not available for comment on Monday.
Anderson is the current chairman of the newly formed Northwest Credit Union Association. The newly combined Oregon and Washington leagues hold an inaugural meeting of the NWCUA this week in Tacoma, Wash.
The Northwest Community e-mail took note of the economic problems which have gripped the state’s central corridor and the need for a well-prepared CEO, with Iglesias chosen for the job.
The new CEO must “guide members and communities in western Oregon through what is likely to remain a financially challenging economic climate.”
It is “a tall order” but the Oregon economy needs “more time to stabilize,” the newsletter said.