Over the past year we have lead sessions with CEOs and chairmen concerning mergers and growth. This caused me to read the article titled "Merger Clarity", by Myriam DiGiovanni in the November 7, 2007 edition, with great interest. The article presented credit union board leaders' ideas and solutions concerning how boards should view and position themselves for future merger opportunities.

To quote the article "The general consensus at the roundtable was that either there is a growth policy in place or you have to merge because you can't stay stagnant." In two of this year's sessions on mergers and growth we asked a few questions that received unsettling response rates (credit unions between $50 million and $2 billion). The first question was: How many of you have growth plans in place? About 50% said they did, but most of the plans were limited to strategic branching plans. The second question was: How many of you have been contacted by another credit union or third party with an offer to merge into a larger credit union? Over 85% raised their hands, even the large credit unions.

Now the questions and responses get very interesting. How many of you have guidelines in place concerning what to do with offers from other credit unions to merge into you or you to be merged into them? The response rate to this question was less than 5%. The following question was: Chairpersons, if you found out that your CEO had discussed or received a call or offer to merge and had not told you, how would you feel? The responses ranged between a reprimand noted in the board minutes to potential action for dismissal. Wow, these responses suggest that we as an industry and specifically each credit union CEO and chairperson need to accomplish some quick work to establishing guidelines for recognizing, analyzing and responding to merger offers.

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