WARREN, Mich. — The Michigan trend toward credit union mergers picked up steam last week with an announcement by two Detroit area credit unions, Research Federal Credit Union and Community Choice, of plans to combine effective in 2007 forming a $425 million credit union.

"Yes, consolidation has been a trend in this state which has a large number of credit unions, but remember mergers are happening among banks too," said Scott Williams, vice president of strategic marketing for Livonia-based Community Choice with $191 million in assets and three branches. Under a letter of intent, the surviving institution will carry the Community Choice name with Catherine Roberts, president of Research FCU, becoming CEO of the merged CU. Research FCU, chartered in 1936 to serve General Motors employees of its Research Laboratories, has assets of $238 million, serving 24,000 members also with three branches with a fourth planned next year. Robert Bava, president/CEO of Community Choice and who will retain the president's title, said the merger would produce economies of scale "and is unusual since it brings together two very healthy credit unions with net worth just under 10% but comes at a time the Michigan economy is in a downturn."

The proposed Research/Community merger follows on the heels of two other large CU combinations since July including formation of the state's eighth largest located in the western part of the state combining $480 million First Resource Credit Union of St. Joseph with the $215 million United Federal Credit Union of Buchanan.

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