Large credit union strikes Charlottesville merger

Virginia Credit Union has signed a merger with a smaller firm.

Virginia Credit Union has signed a merger with a smaller firm.

Richmond’s biggest credit union is using a merger to plant its flag in Charlottesville.

Locally based Virginia Credit Union has struck a deal to absorb Sperry Marine Federal Credit Union.

The transaction is a pure merger, with no money changing hands. It still must get approval from regulators and Sperry Marine’s members and is being targeted for a May 31 finalization.

The deal allows VACU to take on Sperry’s Marine’s 2,000 members and $18 million in assets. VACU currently has nearly $3 billion in assets and 237,000 members.

Glenn Birch, a spokesman for VACU, said Sperry Marine reached out to initiate the merger.

He said the deal exemplifies the trend toward mergers across the credit union industry. Smaller institutions, he said, are being squeezed by higher costs and an inability to keep pace with larger competitors.

Joe Nasevich, chairman of the board at Sperry Marine FCU, said it’s difficult for small credit unions to thrive in today’s banking market.

“We thought that for the longtime sustainability of the credit union, it was in the best interest of our members and employees to merge,” he said. “Virginia Credit Union is much larger, and they have the resources.”

Nasevich said they talked with a several credit unions about a potential merger, both in Central Virginia and outside the area.

With $2.7 billion in total assets, Virginia Credit Union is one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in Richmond. It offers membership to employees of the state, local governments and other employer groups.

With the merger, it will get its first branch in Charlottesville, adding to its 13 Richmond branches, two in Fredericksburg and one in Farmville.

Sperry Marine was chartered in 1957. It currently serves the Charlottesville-based employees of Northrup Grumman, which took over Sperry Marine. The operation there makes navigation systems and instruments for commercial and military maritime clients.

The CEO of Sperry Marine will step down once the deal closes.

This is VACU’s second merger in less than 12 months. It absorbed the assets of locally based Life Line Credit Union last May at the urging of the National Credit Union Administration.

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