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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Wanted: One Good Merger Partner. After eight years of operating as an independent league with its own board and with a management agreement with the Virginia Credit Union League, the D.C. Credit Union League is exploring the option of merging. DCCUL Chairman Theresa Mann, president/CEO, FDIC FCU confirmed she asked the Virginia League and Maryland Credit Union League to submit merger proposals. At press time Mann had already received the Maryland League’s proposal and MCUL President/CEO Mike Beall said, “The Maryland CU League Board of Directors and the D.C. Credit Union League Board of Directors have been in serious discussions concerning the partnership.” Rick Pillow, president/CEO, Virginia Credit Union League said the league “agreed to investigate the merger option and will take it to its board this month.” The D.C. Credit Union League has had a management agreement with the Virginia League since 1998, and Mann says that agreement is reevaluated each year as part of the annual renewal policy. That agreement has included the D.C. League paying the VCUL a monthly management fee and the Virginia League making available to all D.C.-based credit unions the same services available to Virginia credit unions. The D.C. League maintains its own office in the Carlyle building located across the street from NCUA’s offices in Alexandria. The staff of four at the D.C. League’s office are VCUL employees assigned to the D.C. League. “Part of our due diligence is to explore all the options that we determine are in the best interests of our credit unions’ service needs,” said Mann, who added that, “all membership will have a vote in the say so. In the end, our affiliated credit unions will have to vote on the merger, as will the members of the Maryland or the Virginia league.” VCUL’s Pillow said “the beauty of the management agreement is that the D.C. Credit Union League Board is separate from the Virginia Credit Union League Board and they have their own bylaws. It’s up to D.C. credit unions to determine if they’re getting the best for the dues dollars they pay the D.C. League.” Once the VCUL Board has had time to review and consider the merger option with the D.C. League, Pillow said, “At that point we’ll see if it warrants further discussion,” said Pillow. “Ultimately if it’s decided a merger is in the best interest of all credit union members, there will be a formal vote of the membership of both leagues.” Pillow added “there is no time table at this point, we’re just in the initial steps. The process will have to work its way through.” In exploring the merger option and finding the right partner, Mann said the D.C. League’s priority is “a merger of the two leagues into a new organization” and not simply a merger that would entail the D.C. League merging into another league. Mann emphasized that “a merger with any league is not a done deal. We may decide in the end to continue our management agreement with the Virginia League if we don’t find the merger partner and type of partnership we’re looking for. “A merger isn’t our goal. Our objective is to ensure that D.C. credit unions are receiving the best service. We’re exploring all our options,” she said. Pillow agreed that the most important issue is “to get a true partnership that respects the identity of both leagues and to meld that identity together so it works for the benefits of both memberships. That includes governance issues to what the new league would be named.” One governance issue that would have to be tackled in any exploration the D.C. League does of merging is putting together two league boards – Pillow said “that can get political.” The D.C. League has 10 board members, the Virginia League has 13, and Maryland has 10 board members. Cognizant that other potential league mergers have fallen apart because of concerns over maintaining an identity in their state legislatures – Washington and Oregon, North and South Dakota – Pillow noted that the District of Columbia doesn’t have a state legislature but has a city council. VCUL has kept the D.C. City Council abreast of its management agreement with the D.C. League. Pillow said the Virginia League would continue to do so if it decided to pursue a merger with the D.C. League, and it would still provide representation to the D.C. City Council. “Ultimately, and league boards will keep this in the forefront, it has to be what’s in the best interest of both memberships,” said Pillow. “Is a merger a fit that provides the best level of service for all credit unions. If it is and truly benefits both leagues – and I think there are a lot of reasons why it would be a good fit – then it could work in this case. But merging is not a blanket solution for all leagues.” -

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