The lesson this week from two credit union mergers rejected bymembers is that the message needs to get out early and it needs toconvey the benefits that would come with consolidation.

In addition, culture differences among employee groups must becarefully considered to avoid missteps, according to a keyparticipant and an industry consultant.

The members of the smaller credit unions in recent days haveturned down proposed mergers of the $63 million Montana First CU ofMissoula with the $432 million Horizon CU of Spokane, Wash., and$96 million Main Street Financial CU of Baton Rouge, La., with the$260 million Jefferson Financial CU of Metairie in suburban NewOrleans.

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