Horizon to Acquire Montana First CU, Extending Reach to Three States

Horizon Credit Union announced plans to acquire Montana First Credit Union, a $63 million institution based in Missoula, Mont. The deal has already been approved by both boards and could be finalized before the end of the year.

“At this point, the next move, once we get regulatory approval, will be to go to the members for the vote, and if all goes well, we’ll merge, with Feb. 29 [of next year] as the target date,” Horizon CEO/President Jeff Adams said.

Montana First has two branches—both in Missoula—and serves 7,900 members. Adams described Montana First as “a good fit demographically” and said that the two credit unions had been in talks for the better part of the year.

“There’s some expanded convenience,” Adams said, explaining the benefits of the merger for Horizon members. “But there’s also the scale and diversification of risk within additional markets and different portfolios and things like that. And really, when you continue to grow in scale, you can offer more to all your members.”

The acquisition is the Spokane Valley-based credit union’s third significant merger since 2004. In 2006, Horizon merged with Columbia Basin Federal Credit Union, which then marked the largest credit union merger in Washington history and pushed Horizon’s membership above 30,000. This came just two years after Horizon merged with Mountain View Credit Union, also based in Spokane. Horizon was granted an eight-county charter expansion to serve the Idaho Panhandle in 2004 as well, and its reach would now stretch across three states with the inclusion of its new Montana membership base.

“The trick is to maintain the culture and service to the members, continuing to maintain that same value as you expand and just having the additional financial leverage,” Adams said.

Horizon was originally founded in 1947 as the Kaiser Employees Federal Credit Union to serve the needs of Kaiser Aluminum employees and their families. The Horizon moniker was adopted in 1991 as the credit union’s field of membership expanded, and the credit union now has 38,000 members, 16 branches and assets in excess of $420 million.

Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

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