Now celebrating FDIC approval of an historic thrift-to-credit union merger, the president/CEO of the $1.3 billion United Federal Credit Union, Gary Easterling, said Thursday he has heard from “maybe five or six other credit unions” thinking about similar transactions elsewhere.
“They are intrigued with the concept and on that we are very grateful to all the agencies that helped us accomplish this, and that includes NCUA, FDIC and the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions,” said Easterling, whose St. Joseph, Mich., credit union is now putting finishing touches on the merger of the ailing $81 million Griffith Savings Bank of Griffith, Ind.
It is the first such merger of a federal credit union taking over a thrift. Credit union attorneys said the takeover, set to take effect Jan. 1, opens new legal ground for similar moves by other credit unions.
Easterling said the FDIC approval which came Tuesday does include “a timetable through May” that UFCU has to follow as it divests certain assets and investments of Griffith, described by the agency as an ailing thrift.
Under the agreement, Griffith will be liquidated as its good assets are switched to UFCU in compliance with both FDIC and NCUA regulations, “a process which could take six months,” said Easterling.
Calling himself a “champion of charter choice,” Easterling said the Griffith merger provides his southwest Michigan CU its first entry into Northern Indiana and “we hope to expand on that opportunity later on” with perhaps more branches. The final computer conversion of Griffith is slated for completion by May.
In the meantime, UFCU does expect to expand further its Nevada footprint after it merged the $154 million Clearstar Financial CU in Reno. “We will be looking at expanding further in Reno,” said Easterling.