Western Bridge News Expected This Week
Despite an earlier indication from the NCUA that the regulator hoped to reach a decision about how best to dispose of the assets of conserved corporate Western Bridge in November, that month came and went with no announcements.
Asked about when it hoped to announce a decision on the sale of Western Bridge or U.S. Central, the other conserved corporate, the NCUA recently said through a spokesman, “NCUA continues to work diligently to resolve matters related to both WesBridge and US Central. We will make an announcement at the appropriate time.”
Involved parties, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the record, indicated that an announcement–probably about Western Bridge, possibly also about U.S. Central –will be forthcoming on Dec. 15, the day of the next NCUA board meeting. “Look to that date,” said one source.
One topic on which the NCUA will offer definitive comment is that, in its search for solutions for Western Bridge, it has sought input from present members.
“We have not solicited formal input from the members, but they have had the opportunity through the initial phase when United Resources was proposed. For example, NCUA has used several informal channels that helped inform our decision to open the Western Bridge bidding process only to corporates–as the NCUA board heard many members would not support a transition to a noncorporate entity. No member will be forced to remain a member of an acquiring corporate, nor will they be required to contribute capital if an acquirer pursues a capital call on Western Bridge members. However, if they choose not to contribute capital, the member may have to transition away from the acquirer in an orderly fashion,” said a board spokesman.
That statement is not necessarily supported by testimony from Western Bridge members. When asked by Credit Union Times if they had in fact been contacted by the NCUA to offer perspective on disposing of Western Bridge assets, leaders in three California credit unions that had been active supporters in the failed drive to capitalize United Resources– Patelco, Vons, and Kern Schools FCU–indicated their opinions had not been sought.
None of the credit unions contacted did in fact say thier opinions had been sought.
At least some outside observers believe the NCUA has acted appropriately. Explained credit union consultant Marvin Umholtz, “As conservator, the NCUA did not require anyone’s advice or approval about how to handle the Western Bridge sale.”
“The NCUA stuck to its early-on commitment that each Western Bridge-member credit union could make its own business decision whether to stay or move to another provider. That has been true throughout the conservatorship.”