Valley Strong Credit Union announced Friday it has agreed to join with another financial institution, its second such arrangement this year, as it moves forward with previously disclosed expansion plans.
The Bakersfield-based organization said it intends to merge with 30,000-member Financial Center Credit Union pending regulatory approval and a vote of the Stockton-based institution's membership.
If finalized as soon as later this year, the combined organization would serve nearly 200,000 members with 27 branches from Tehachapi to Lodi under the Valley Strong name, making it one of the largest credit unions in California.
"Our partnership is rooted in the commitment and passion we have for serving our members," Valley Strong's executive vice president and incoming CEO, Nick Ambrosini, said in a news release. "Financial Center's passion for the industry and for the long-term growth and viability of community credit unions matches Valley Strong's."
Founded in 1954, Financial Center reported having about $636 million in assets at the end of March, up nearly a fifth from a year earlier, making it roughly a quarter of Valley Strong's size.
It boasts a net worth-to-total assets ratio of more than 16, which suggests it is very strong financially. It reported net income of $689,741 during the first quarter, down 7 percent year over year, and total loans of $117 million, or about 24 percent less than a year earlier.
Financial Center President and CEO Michael P. Duffy said in the release that the proposed union represents a strategic partnership between two "financially healthy, future focused credit unions committed to providing unparalleled branch access, digital access and amazing service for the members and the communities they serve."
"At its core," he added, "our partnership with Valley Strong represents us selecting the best credit union partner to help us achieve our goals faster than we could duplicate on our own."
In March Valley Strong announced it had agreed to its second merger in its history, a deal with Fairfield-based Solano First Federal Credit Union, which with about $175 million in assets is much smaller and financially weaker than the Bakersfield-based institution. Regulatory approval has since been granted and the membership Solano First has until June 10 to finalize approval.
Early last year Valley Strong rebranded — it was previously known as Kern Schools Federal Credit Union — and disclosed ambitions to expand northward. Executives there said ongoing industry consolidation meant the credit union needed to grow geographically in order to survive and thrive.
Last year Forbes ranked 81-year-old Valley Strong as second in California in the magazine's list of "Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions."