Sunday 25 September 2016

Members of credit union halt €170m merger

Published 19/12/2015 | 02:30

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Plans for a multi-million euro merger involving Cork credit unions has been scuppered by members who voted it down.

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The combination would have created one of the largest credit unions in the country.

But members of St Michael's in Blackrock rejected the proposal for their credit union to join up with recently merged Ballyphehane and St Finbarr's South. The new body would have had assets of €170m and 34,000 members.

It is just the latest credit union to reject efforts by the Department of Finance and the Central Bank to get hundreds of credit unions to merge to create larger units.

About 180 credit unions are resisting Finance Minister Michael Noonan and the Central Bank's encouragement to combine.

Members of St Michael's rejected the motion to merge at a meeting this week by a majority of 60pc.

It is understood to have been a heated meeting, with members unconvinced by the arguments put forward by the board for the tie-up.

The credit union has 14,000 members and assets of €50m.

Unpopular

The recent merger of Ballyphehane and St Finbarr's South created a unit with close to 20,000 members, according to figures from the Irish League of Credit Unions. The new body has assets of €111m.

Chief executive of the State body set up to facilitate credit union mergers, John Doyle, said the members' vote would be respected.

Mr Doyle of the Credit Union Restructuring Board said: "The members of St Michael's don't want the merger, so it is not going to happen."

Two previous mergers were opposed by members but went ahead. Last year's €158m tie-up between Dublin's Coolock-Artane and Swords to form Member First proved unpopular but ultimately went ahead.

In August, the board of Maynooth Credit Union agreed to be taken over by the larger Naas CU. The deal went ahead despite protests in Maynooth.

Irish Independent

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