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April 2, 2024

UCU, Changing Seasons credit unions look to merge

white wall with logo and window and table with chairs COURTESY / UNIVERSITY CREDIT UNION University Credit Union in Orono and Changing Seasons Federal Credit Union in Hampden this week announced their intent to merge.

The past few years have seen frequent mergers between credit unions looking to keep pace in an increasingly competitive market for financial services.

Since 2020, the tie-ups have included those of Bangor-based Penobscot County Federal Credit Union with the County Federal Credit Union in Aroostook County, Westbrook-based Infinity Credit Union with Illinois-based Deere Employees Credit Union, and Unity-based Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union with Five County Credit Union of Bath.

On Monday, University Credit Union in Orono and Changing Seasons Federal Credit Union in Hampden said they too have arrived at a merger agreement, pending regulatory and membership approval later this year.

“As separate institutions founded within a year of each other in the 1960s, serving members throughout the Greater Bangor region for more than 50 years, UCU and Changing Seasons share many roots, relationships, core values and commitment to the credit union movement,” said Renee Ouellette, UCU’s president and CEO.

person with brown hair smilng
Renee Ouellette

“By merging, we are stronger and better positioned to fulfill our purpose-driven mission: to help Maine people and communities advance their financial wellbeing.”

Terms of the proposed deal were not disclosed.

The combined credit unions will continue as University Credit Union, based out of UCU headquarters on Main Street in Orono. 

Changing Seasons’ seven employees, including its president and CEO Rob Picard, and all of its members will join UCU upon completion of the merger.

UCU serves members across the state with locations in Orono, Bangor, Farmington, Gorham, Portland, Presque Isle and Machias. This summer, it will open its first location in Kennebec County at 67 Sewall St., Augusta.

University Credit Union, which for 57 years had been providing financial services primarily for academic personnel, in January received state regulatory approval to expand membership throughout 11 Maine counties.

Established in 1967, UCU ranks No. 6 among the largest Maine-based credit unions, with assets of $476.8 million, according to the 2024 Mainebiz Book of Lists. The credit union has about 28,800 members.

Changing Seasons was established in 1966 as Bangor Hydro FCU to serve Bangor Hydro Electric Co. employees. Today, its membership includes the towns of Bangor, Brewer, Hampden and other communities in Penobscot and Waldo counties. 

Picard said the decision to merge into UCU resulted from careful consideration of how best to serve members’ evolving needs for financial products and services. 

“The board identified UCU as an ideal voluntary merger partner, and both institutions are moving forward with the merger process,” Picard said.

In a letter to members, Picard cited the cost of competition.

“After careful evaluation of our credit union over the past several years, it has become increasingly obvious that the cost of doing business for a small credit union has outpaced the ability to afford the next level of products and services desired by our members, leading us to explore a merger,” he wrote.

Changing Seasons’ board approached University Credit Union as a voluntary merger partner.

He continued, “As a small credit union, operational efficiencies are a significant challenge, causing the cost of doing business to outpace the ability to bring the next level of products and services our members desire and deserve.”

Initially the Hampden branch will remain open for a number of months. But it’s anticipated it will close by year end, due to its proximity to UCU’s branch at 977 Union St. in Bangor, less than a 5-mile drive from the Hampden branch.

The merger will create opportunities for members to have access to a wide range of credit union products, services and technologies, he said.

For Changing Seasons members, changes will include a name change to UCU plus increased availability of local branches, ATMs, and financial products and services.

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