Virginia credit unions to merge

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Vantria had “millions of dollars” in real estate losses. The accurate figure is “more than $1 million.”

The housing market is on the mend — but not for everyone.

Saddled with about $1 million in real estate losses, Springfield-based Vantria Federal Credit Union announced last week that it is merging with Apple Federal Credit Union, which is headquartered in Fairfax.

“We have experienced an inordinate amount of real estate loan losses over the past four years, depleting our capital at a very fast rate,” Patricia Malatesta, chief executive of Vantria, said in an e-mail.

Declining demand for loans and a lack of marketing funds have further compounded the problem, Malatesta said. Last year alone, the credit union posted a loss of $2.05 million, according to documents filed with the National Credit Union Association.

Vantria, which has one branch and $74 million in assets, put itself up for a merger about a year ago. Apple Federal Credit Union, with $1.7 billion in assets and 21 branches, seemed like a good fit.

“Sometime mid-last year, we sat down and talked about the philosophies and the issues we had in common,” said Larry Kelly, president and chief executive of Apple. “It just went from there.”

The acquisition has been approved by the NCUA and is expected to close May 1, Kelly said.

For Apple, the deal would broaden the pool of potential members. The credit union currently serves those who have ties to Prince William County, Manassas City and Manassas Park, while Vantria serves 7,700 members in Fairfax County.

“We were in the same community, so to speak,” Kelly said, adding he would not lay off any of Vantria’s 13 employees. “This will help us expand our membership. Our members will gain a real benefit”

Kelly said Apple would eventually move its Springfield branch into Vantria’s existing facility.

“Their facility in Springfield is much nicer, honestly, than Apple’s,” Kelly said. “They have four drive-through lanes, which is not easy to come by in Springfield.”

Apple, which has 148,000 members, is in the process of building a branch in Gainesville. Kelly said the credit union is looking to continue expanding in coming months

“We’re always looking for the next move,” he said.

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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