EVANSVILLE, Ind.—Evansville Teachers FCU plans to purchase First Liberty Financial Mortgage, a move the credit union expects will almost double monthly mortgage production.
First Liberty is a regional mortgage company headquartered in Owensboro, Ky. The deal is expected to become effective Nov. 15 and extends the credit union’s mortgage lending reach to 12 new locations, giving ETFCU a presence in six new markets in Kentucky, one in Tennessee, two in Alabama, and one in Mississippi. Currently, ETFCU serves more than 158,000 members across five states.
ETFCU’s acquisition of First Liberty will allow the $1.3-billion credit union to more effectively offer its mortgage products throughout the region, the CU stated.
“In conjunction with our strategic business plan, we have been seeking to add to our mortgage loan production offices in several key markets within Kentucky,” said Bill Schirmer, ETFCU president and CEO. “This alliance with First Liberty Financial Mortgage will enable us to better serve our existing members in these markets in addition to offering our expansive mortgage products to new members as well. The acquisition complements the long-term business strategy of both of our established organizations.”
With the purchase ETFCU will offer mortgage services as both Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union and First Liberty Financial Mortgage, a division of ETFCU. The credit union, which said it consistently leads the Evansville area in market share for mortgage purchases and refinances, expects to nearly double its monthly $30-million mortgage production from the deal.
“When considering the possibilities in these new markets, the First Liberty opportunity is just a fantastic fit for what we were trying to accomplish,” said Mark Winchester, ETFCU senior vice president of lending.
“ETFCU has a tremendous reputation throughout the area for its member-friendly mortgage products. All of us at First Liberty are very excited to be a part of the team,” said Pat Cason, president of First Liberty.
Michael Bell, attorney and counselor with Royal-Oak, Mich.-based Howard & Howard, who is representing ETFCU, said this deal is a perfect example of an “enlightened” non-organic growth strategy.
“Credit unions have the power to purchase a plethora of businesses and business operations— from whole banks to specialized lenders to real estate brokerages,” said Bell, who has also has been part of 12 CU/whole bank deals, including one merger of a bank into a credit union.
Schirmer said the acquisition, too, brings additional resources that will allow the credit union to further enhance its “flagship” premium checking accounts.
“As a member-owned financial cooperative, we continue to strive to offer increased value to our members. Through this acquisition, the credit union will be in a better position to provide the benefits our members appreciate, as well as expand our value proposition to new members,” said Schirmer.
Evansville Teachers offers two premium checking accounts—one that returns rewards points and another paying 3% APY. Both accounts also offer reimbursement of ATM fees at any machine worldwide.
The credit union said it has already paid out an aggregate of $1.9 million in checking account dividends, rewards points, and ATM refunds through Sept. 30, and is projecting to surpass $2.5 million by year’s end.