It's a merger of near-equals.
Tacoma-based Sound Credit Union and Seattle-based Watermark Credit Union announced Tuesday that they would combine assets and memberships to become Sound Credit Union.
The amalgamated entity will comprise 21 branches located from Olympia to Lynnwood, with the total number of members growing to 121,000.
Sound Credit Union counts about 44,000 members, said Executive Vice President Denise Reagan on Tuesday, and Watermark has approximately 77,000.
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“The assets are the same size,” she said.
The publication Credit Union Times reported Tuesday that Watermark will contribute $564 million in assets and Sound some $544 million.
“We are a merger of equals in many ways,” Reagan said. “It’s also a merger of strengths.”
With its beginnings in the late 1930s, Sound has been party to 13 mergers – most recently with Milepost Credit Union, in 2009; and with Westop and Valley Credit Unions earlier in the decade.
The merger with Watermark will be the 14th for Sound. Along with keeping the brand name, current Sound President and CEO Richard Brandsma will head the combined enterprise.
Watermark President and CEO Sharon Sanford is scheduled to retire later this year.
The new board of directors will contain six members representing each of the two credit unions, for a total of 12 members. The new company will call Tacoma home and will operate using the Sound charter.
Both credit unions were formed to serve members from the telephone industry, and both Seattle Telco and Tacoma Telco have grown to accept members, related to the telephone industry or not, living throughout the state.
Tacoma Telco changed its brand to become Sound Credit Union in 2001, Reagan said.
Following the likely approval by state and federal regulators, members of Watermark Credit Union will vote on the merger.
Members of Sound Credit Union will not vote, as their institution is subsuming Watermark.
“Our hope, if everything goes well, is that the vote will happen in June,” Reagan said.
The merger will conclude following a period of due diligence by both parties.
“We’ve had discussions for quite a while,” Reagan said. “It’s been in talks for years. We talked years ago with Seattle Telco when we were Tacoma Telco. Our desire was to go into the Seattle market and their desire was to come into our market. It seemed like a good time to revisit that.”
Reagan said she foresees further growth for Sound.
“Our goal would be to expand beyond this, not necessarily by merger. We would also like to grow organically, and to do that you have to have size.”