WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Corporate credit unions seem to break out of a different mold each year. 2003 was no different. Competitive turf battles continued this year. For example, Corporate Central CU opened an office in Minnesota to market to Minnesota CUs. This was not to the liking of Minnesota Corporate which last year announced merger plans with Mid-States. In an admittedly retaliatory move, Mid-States hired someone to call on credit unions in Corporate Central's home turf, Wisconsin. However, encroaching on a corporate's turf isn't as dramatic as in years past. Corporate CEOs say they may not like it, but it's now a fact of life and they've learned to live with it. Speaking of Mid-States and Minnesota Corporate, they received approval by NCUA to complete their merger. As of press time however the deal wasn't done as Minnesota CUs still need to approve the merger. Mergers weren't as prolific as previous years. One interesting merger that did get done was between the industry's largest corporate, WesCorp, and PacCorp, the corporate serving Hawaii and Guam credit unions. This deal was finalized in rapid fashion and the two corporates are already operating as one. It's interesting in that former WesCorp CEO Dick Johnson lobbied hard for a merger between the two corporates, but could not pull it off. Former PacCorp President/CEO Rand Yamasaki credited Johnson's successor, Bob Siravo, for having the right stuff to get the deal done. The other corporates in the running for PacCorp were Southwest Corporate and SunCorp. There were a few other potential mergers on the table. One was between Midwest Corporate and Missouri Corporate. That deal ultimately died over problems converting the overnight account structures. Missouri Corporate President/CEO Dennis DeGroodt has been an advocate of Midwest corporates joining forces in mergers. Another potential merger was between Southeast Corporate and Corporate America. The boards explored a potential merger, but a deal could not be struck. In a true sign of unity among corporates, just about all of them are owners in a new CUSO, Corporate Exchange. Corporate Exchange's flagship product is a brokered CD program that is very familiar to corporates. That's because it's SimpliCD, the wildly successful brokered CD product created by Corporate One. Corporate One had a decision to make – either join the other corporates in Corporate Exchange and make SimpliCD the CUSO's product, or continue to market it on its own while Corporate Exchange formed a similar, competing product. Corporate One CEO Lee Butke said his goal was always to get SimpliCD into as many corporates as possible, and the best way to do that would be through Corporate Exchange. This was also the year of the business services CUSO in corporates. Southeast Corporate and CenCorp started their own business services CUSO, while Empire Corporate and FirstCorp joined forces with CU Business Group, LLC, the business services CUSO formed by Northwest Corporate last year. -

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