The collapse of an Oregon merger deal which would have formed the state’s fifth-largest credit union can simply be blamed on the unexpected, the head of one of the participants, the $148 million Mid Oregon CU acknowledged Wednesday.
In the case of the $661 million Northwest Community CU of Springfield merging Mid Oregon of Bend, the unexpected turned out to be the retirement of Helen Byrnes, the former CEO of Northwest Community who left last spring deciding to take care of her husband stricken with a sudden illness.
“We had made our plans to work with Helen in charting our merger but all of a sudden everything is up in the air and they are looking for a new CEO,” explained William Anderson, the president/CEO of Mid Oregon.
The actual merger announcement had been made in October 2010 but the Northwest search for a new CEO put a damper on any merger deal, said Anderson.
In June Northwest hired John Iglesias, the former president/CEO of Salal CU of Seattle.
“We at Mid Oregon felt their new CEO who we did not know needed some time to get on board and prove himself,” a process that might take a year or more, said Anderson.
There was no “urgency” to a merger, said Anderson, since it was put together as a strategic move by both CUs to expand central Oregon branching capability and add new tech-based products and services.
Both CUs are well capitalized “and we’re in good markets” so “being in limbo” is no problem, said Anderson, who also is chairman of the newly merged Northwest Credit Union Association, which convened this week in Tacoma, Wash., for its inaugural annual convention and trade show.
Anderson maintained the calling off of the merger talks is old news to members of the two CUs though the Bend Bulletin carried a mention of the merger cancellation last week.
For its part, Northwest said it did plan to put out a press release this week announcing the formal appointment of Iglesias as its new CEO.
While the merger was off, Northwest said it would continue to “look for growth opportunities and expand its branch network.
Northwest said it does plan to add two new branches in 2012 “and we’ll continue to explore merger possibilities when they benefit our communities and our cooperative.