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Mar 30: Vancity and Squamish talk merger – with a twist

Vancity and Squamish talk merger – with a twist

Vancouver, March 30, 2005 – Vancity Credit Union and Squamish Credit Union announced today that they are entering into formal merger discussions – with a twist.

The credit unions are exploring an innovative partnership approach to mergers. Under the new model, rather than being wholly assimilated into Vancity, Squamish would operate as an independent business unit “within” Vancity – a partner. Squamish would retain its brand name and presence in the community, as well as an elected board of directors that would continue to make decisions about how they operate in the community.

“When Vancity came to us with their partnership model, it really caught our attention,” says Squamish General Manager Bill Brumpton. “We saw it as a terrific way to expand our product and service offering to our members without losing our connection to the community.”

Enabling the model required changes to Vancity’s rules to create the legal framework for pursuing a partnership merger. Earlier this month, Vancity members voted 85.5 per cent in favour of the changes.

The two credit unions are now creating a framework for bringing the model to life. Once both Boards approve the framework, the merger will go to a vote of Squamish’s members – most likely in September 2005.

“We came to realize that while mergers help us to grow, they risk shifting our focus away from what makes credit unions so unique: the strong brand affinity within the community and the ‘local touch’ that comes with having directors and employees that live and work in the region making decisions for their members,” says Vancity CEO Dave Mowat. “We think this approach combines the best of both worlds – the resources of a large institution delivered within the neighbourliness of a local credit union.”

Vancity is Canada’s largest credit union, with $10.5 billion in assets, more than 300,000 members, and 42 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity was chosen as the best place to work in Canada for 2005 by Maclean’s Magazine as part of its annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers issue. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to helping members and communities thrive and prosper.

Squamish Credit Union is a full-service credit union celebrating 61 years of serving the Squamish community. Squamish has two branches serving more than 7,000 members and $62 million in assets. Squamish’s mission is to enhance the financial well-being of its members.