Marking its second merger bid in two weeks, the $360 million Connexus Credit Union of Wausau, Wis. said members of the ailing $45 million Tower CU approved a consolidation offer over the weekend.
Earlier this month the central Wisconsin CU said it would be merging the $11 million Maple Hill CU, also of Wausau.
“These are economically challenging times for some credit unions but these two are a natural fit for us to grow in our community,” explained J. David Christenson, president/CEO of Connexus.
Once both mergers are complete, expected in Marc, Connexus will have 11 branches and 62,000 members.
Connexus said the addition of Maple Hill and Tower would strengthen its financial literacy programs. Christenson said Tower has a branch in a high school while Connexus has been making advances in that regard at a local technical college.
Founded in 1935 to serve employees of Wausau Insurance Companies, Connexus also counts membership at Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Boston carrier, as well as a Wisconsin healthcare firm.
Industry sources said talks between Connexus and Tower have been ongoing for years but more recently came to fruition. Tower posted a $660,000 loss for 2011 following a $575,000 loss a year earlier but its capital ratio has remained steady.
Following the Feb. 17 merger proposal announced for Maple Hill, Christenson lamented what he called the sad condition of so many small CUs opting for mergers since it diminishes the overall industry message.
Still, asked about the spurt of mutual bank discussions under way, Christenson said any move to convert to a mutual bank is off the radar for his CU. He also said he doubts many other Wisconsin CUs favor conversion.
“Banks share the same regulatory burden as we do and so they won’t do any better under FDIC,” said Christenson drawing on his own experience as a Wisconsin savings & loan commissioner in the late 1990s.