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PORTLAND, Ore. – In a rare combination, three Portland area credit unions have merged, giving up federal and community charters in the process while citing management succession and product delivery as factors in the decision to consolidate into the newly named Oregonians CU. “We felt this kind of a merger is a good fit for all three and gives us branching and product advantages,” explained Chuck Garner, the former CEO of the $42 million Oregonian FCU and the spokesman for the newly formed $240 million institution, 12th largest in the state. In addition to Oregonian FCU, the others are the $168 million Oregon Central and the $21 million Mountain View FCU of Gresham. Garner, now executive vice president and chief operating officer of the new entity with 40,000 members, is also the designated Oregonians CEO successor “to occur in a three to five year period,” said a spokesman. Garner, 53, would replace the retiring CEO, 63-year-old Michael Cline, who had been CEO of Oregon Central. Floyd Lanter, the state’s top CU regulator, acknowledged management succession was a key factor in the three joining up adding he would not be surprised if more mergers of small CUs-particularly those with federal charters-occur in both Oregon and Washington State. “Washington has had their share of them,” observed Lanter noting that his office, the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities of which he is administrator, supervises 25 CUs out of 95 in the state. The federal charters have average assets of $45 million compared to the 25 states with averages at $332 million. Lanter said also he could not forecast conditions on the federal side, but CUs in the Northwest like small CUs elsewhere continue to experience shrinking margins and find it tough to compete in a high tech market. “We’re living in a world where small credit unions find it simply harder to obtain the technology, skills and product they need to serve their members,” said Lanter. But the management of the new Oregonians CU insisted its larger size and branch capacity would meet consumer demands in a productive way “We’ve really brought the best of all three credit unions together,” said Cline, the president/CEO in a press release. “Money market accounts, free online bill pay, and indirect auto lending are just some of the new products that are being offered to members as a result of the merger.” The combined CU, with headquarters in downtown Portland, has eight locations throughout metro Portland and Eugene. The executive leadership team of Oregonians CU said the release, “was cultivated from all three credit unions” and in addition to Cline and Garner, others include: Maria Swanson, senior vice president, operations; Sam Launius, vice president of branch operations; Ann Klein, vice president of human resources and Nancy Stickel, vice president of marketing and business development. Garner said Oregonians CU will be SEG based since this appears to be a future area for positive member growth. There are a combined 3,000 SEGs among the three with Oregon Central, the pioneer in the group having the most SEGs at about 2,000. The merger talks, he said, began last summer with both Oregonian CU and Oregon Central being “solid, high capital” institutions. Mountain View had been in a “break even” mode and had sought out a possible merger partner. “Oregonians Credit Union will have its branch strategically placed” in metro Portland and can reach out to new members, said Garner. Stickel, the marketing vice president, said Oregonians CU expects to launch its major marketing push later this fall following initial promotion announcing the new name. Stickel said the name was selected “so all three credit unions could associate with it.” “Since we serve members statewide, we really wanted to feature the state in the logo as well as our name. The colors – dark forest green and tan, are reflective of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and our tagline is “it’s great being an Oregonian!” “We are still working on merging our operations, combining phone systems and data systems, synchronizing polices and procedures, and combining cultures,” said Stickel. “We want to lay a good solid foundation for our new credit union first, and then we will start focusing on building our brand, combining our marketing efforts and advertising.” [email protected]

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