Three leading credit unions announce collaborative merger

OSHKOSH, WI (January 22, 2014) — CitizensFirst, Lakeview and Best Advantage credit unions have announced plans for a three credit union collaborative merger in 2014 after a unanimous vote from their Boards of Directors.  While CitizensFirst’s charter will remain as the newly merged credit union, the memberships of Best Advantage and Lakeview will vote on the proposed merger at their annual meetings in February and March 2014, respectively.   After merger, the credit union will ultimately undergo a name change to demonstrate the cooperative spirit that brought the three together.

Once finalized, this collaborative partnership will leverage $600 million in combined assets, with 10 branch locations serving 47,000 members throughout 15 counties in Wisconsin. This historic merger will be the first of its kind in the state of Wisconsin, according to the Department of Financial Institutions.

CitizensFirst President & CEO Kevin J. Ralofsky said the merger was born out of a shared vision for strengthening the relevancy and value for all members.

“This partnership is one that is built on collaboration and values that guide our beliefs and justify our actions, a testament to the cooperative nature of credit unions,” Ralofsky added. “We are stronger together.”

“The exciting thing about this is that it is a merger of choice where all three partners approached this as a strategic partnership,” Ralofsky said.

Lakeview Credit Union President & CEO Pat Lowney agreed, “We take the seven cooperative principles of credit unions seriously and have worked hard to achieve something bigger, something better, for all of our members,” Lowney said.

“This new partnership will allow us to blend our areas of expertise, resulting in improved product offerings and better technology for our 47,000 members, and will allow us to expand our lending opportunities in 15 markets,” Lowney added.

Best Advantage President & CEO Tammy Williams said that “an organization’s culture is critical to its success today more than ever. We are extremely proud that all partners have a deep commitment to transparency and respect.” Williams noted that culture is driven by the people and is excited about the talent and resources that each team brings to the table. “It is going to continue to be an exciting journey!”

Kevin Ralofsky will serve as the new credit union’s President & CEO. Pat Lowney and Tammy Williams will retain senior executive positions critical to the overall success of the collaboration.

The new credit union hopes to serve as a model for other credit unions that may be considering similar collaborative efforts.


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