Clearly the story of a bank buying (merging) a credit union was the most critical and important issue of 2006, followed closely by the credit union-to-bank conversions. But they are really one story. The economic value of credit unions are at risk from being bought, stolen or raided–internally or externally. In the ’70s and ’80s Corporate America had corporate raiders who would buy up undervalued companies, break them up and sell the pieces for enormous gains. Take a look at the details of the Nationwide Bank purchase and you will see that the purchase price paid comes in at about $1,850 per member. This calculates to about 1.14 times equity. It was an absolute bargain at that price! If you examine each of our billion-dollar credit unions today, you will find that the average member value is approximately $1,150 (Capital/Members) per member and over 30 of these credit unions are at over $1,500 per member. In a hostile takeover, banks would likely offer something above 1.25 times equity. You tell me, how willing members would be to sell their membership in their credit union for $1,500 to $2,000. I think very likely!! Unfortunately I think we may see something like this occur in the future. What a great strategy for the banks. It’s capitalism at its purest. If you can’t beat them, buy them. What would you do as a credit union if a local community bank came to your board and offered to buy the credit union for $2,000 per member? Scary thought! Hal Carroll President San Jose Credit Union San Jose, Calif.

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