Depending on which analysis you follow, between 22 and 24 credit unions sold their credit card portfolios and entered into an agent-issuing agreement with purchasers in 2009, according to NCUA data.

This either equaled or surpassed by two the record-low number of CUs that one brokerage recorded as selling in 2008. The brokerage firms agreed that more card assets changed hands in 2009 than in the previous year, while remaining significantly lower than the number of card assets that moved in previous years.

Asset Exchange reported that its analysis of the NCUA’s data showed that 24 credit union portfolios changed hands in 2009 with seven of them coming in the final quarter. The portfolios’ total outstanding balances were worth about $325 million. This was an increase from the $98 million in CU card outstanding balances that found buyers in 2008, the brokerage reported.

But TRK Advisors reported that its analysis of NCUA data found only 22 credit unions that sold their portfolios in 2009 for a total of $328 million in outstanding balances and five portfolios moving in the last quarter. The firm attributed the low portfolio sales to an increasingly cautious stance on the part of portfolio buyers.

“The decline in sales activity appears to have been driven mostly by uncertainty and conservatism in the portfolio buying community,” wrote Tim Kolk, president of TRK Advisors. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that as many credit unions as ever actively examined their sale options in 2009 but many were unable to find interested buyers.”