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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In the latest example of state league consolidation, the Florida and Alabama credit union leagues appeared ready this month to move forward with combining the trade groups.The merger is expected to be completed by next June under a new brand and an unnamed CEO. The consolidated league, which would represent nearly 340 CUs in the two states and be headquartered in Florida, has been on the drawing boards since early this year.The nuptials were set inmotion last June when the boards of both groups agreed to hold feasibility talks on consolidation in light of the planned retirement of two veteran CEOs, Guy M. Hood of Florida and Gary B. Wolter of Alabama.Under the proposed reorganization, slated for approval by the boards and membership of the two leagues at December meetings, the new league entity will be incorporated in Alabama but with its main office in Florida; Tallahassee is one possibility.Both leagues, however, would retain a legislative presence and CU advocacy in their respectivecapital cities.Meanwhile, Hood, the 66-year-old president/CEO of the Florida group, who had planned on retiring a year ago, said he has agreed to stay on until a new CEO is named in June.Wolter, 67, had scheduled his retirement from the Alabama group next July. Wolter holds the distinction as the longest serving president/CEO of a state league, with 40 years of service. He started with the trade group in 1962 becoming president at age 26.Hood said a name for the new combined league is being worked on now by themarketing staff and that the CEO wouldhave a say in “where exactly in Florida the offices might be.”The leadership of both leagues cautioned that the consolidation, while gaining widespread support among CUs in the two states, is not a done deal awaiting due diligence on accounting, tax and asset issues. The Alabama board is expected to take up the vote on final approval of the consolidation at a Dec. 9 meeting, followed by a vote of the full membership at a special meeting in February. A similar scenario is expected in Florida.There has been talk the consolidated league might morph into a regional entity serving neighbor states in the South but the league heads stress that it is too early to engage in formal discussions.“We first have to complete the due diligence and come to terms about how we combine our two organizations,” said Richard Helber, chairman of the Florida league and executive vice president of GTE FCU in Tampa.He said the need for consolidation and cost savings has long been evident as the number of credit unions in both states shrinks.“We used to have 450 credit unions in Florida and now we’re down to 188,” said Helber. The need for a league structure is more paramount than ever, he said, but “conditions and circumstances have changed” making it economically feasible for one organization to serve CUs in both states.Regarding regional configurations, Hood said if successful the combined Florida-Alabama trade group could set a regional precedent but the goals of the two boards “has never been a Pac-Man philosophy.”–[email protected]

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