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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With an eye on new business, Kentucky credit unions apparently are getting the first sampling of how that mega-merger of Bank One and JPMorgan Chase plays out in one of the nation’s biggest bank “makeovers.” “Every time we see mergers like this, we always find bank customers don’t like to change their checks and don’t like receiving those higher fees,” declared William Rissel, president of the $417 million Fort Knox FCU of Radcliff, whose CU like others across the state is plotting its marketing strategy in the wake of debut ads and new signage implementing the conversion. This merger like one that disrupted banking relationships in New England and the South a year ago with Bank of America/Fleet /Nationsbank might provide CUs potential new business in areas from Minnesota to Arizona, sources said. In Kentucky the first wave of TV ads and the removal of Bank One signs replaced with the Chase moniker began appearing in Louisville and Lexington with CUs already making plans with ads of their own. Humor seemed to take a front row seat. “I have a suggestion,” quipped Rissel. “How about, `Do you like chasing your bank out of town?’ or `Are you tired of chasing your money?’” There are many possibilities, said Rissel, with Fort Knox FCU ads to start running when official notices go out to bank customers informing them they have to start making changes. The $454 million L&N FCU, the state’s largest, said the timing of one of its ads, titled “Mergers, Startups and Acquisitions,” could not have been better and more coincidental since it was not aware until recently of the JPMorganChase timetable. The L&N ad deals with marriages, new families and car purchase but the language now hits home nicely, said Tim Root, vice president of marketing and community development at L&N. “Another acquisition in this market means a few more disgruntled customers,” forecast Root noting all of the major regional banks have now been sold to large out-of-state institutions. That includes the old Liberty National, the state’s largest bank and which had the strongest local following. It was sold to Bank One. A spokesman for JPMorgan Chase in New York, confirming the national conversion schedule, said Kentucky was picked for the launch “because it is one of the smaller states in which we felt we could accomplish the transition.” The task began April 18 and is to be completed in two to four weeks. There are 72 branches and 600 signs in Kentucky, said the spokesman noting that as part of the “logistics” JPMorgan would be also switching all of its paperwork including loan and deposit documents. After Kentucky, “will come Oklahoma in two weeks” followed by Wisconsin and Utah “with the rest of the states through the remainder of 2005 and then completed by early in 2006. The approach in each state is kind of like a `Swat Team,’” said the spokesman. In Arizona, splashy news articles began appearing in the Phoenix market discussing the conversion. One change riling that community is elimination of the popular “BOB” nickname for the ballpark, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and other sports teams. BOB stands for “Bank One Ballpark” and JPMorgan said it does plan later this year to come up with an acceptable new name. However, the prospect of getting rid of BOB has irked civic leaders. In Kentucky, the $90 million Classroom Teachers FCU of Louisville said it did mention “megabanks and mergers” in one of its recent newsletters but it is devoting attention to its own “makeover” and name change. It won regulatory approval earlier this year to become ClassAct FCU and it is now working on changing signs and paperwork effective June 1. As for the JPMorganChase switch, “They’ve certainly made their presence known around town with the TV ads, the billboards and the signs,” said Thomas Anonson, executive vice president for Classroom Teachers. He said he has not stopped in any of the branches but the “Chase” name predominates. In the meantime, Louisville CUs will be ready for the competition, said Anonson, who also is president of the Louisville Chapter of Credit Unions, an affiliate of the Kentucky Credit Union League. [email protected]

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