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Clearwater-based Achieva Credit Union and Sarasota Coastal Credit Union agree to merge

Clearwater-based Achieva Credit Union is absorbing the financially stressed Sarasota Coastal Credit Union, creating an institution with more than $800 million in assets and 90,000 members in seven counties.

The merger, which is effective this weekend, will give Achieva its first presence in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties.

Initial merger talks began in April, and the two companies signed a letter of intent to merge July 31. In a special meeting this week, more than 86 percent of Sarasota Coastal members voted in favor of the merger.

Achieva president and CEO Gary Regoli said the Sarasota credit union has "a similar philosophy and value structure to our own." Both unions were initially formed to serve school employees.

Achieva, founded in 1937, was formerly known as the Pinellas County Teachers Credit Union. It has $650 million in assets, about 65,000 members, six branches in Pinellas County and one branch in Pasco County. Sarasota Coastal, founded in 1953, has $235 million in assets, more than 25,000 members and five branches in Sarasota County.

Besides being larger, Achieva also is considered far healthier than its Sarasota counterpart. Florida-based ratings agency Bauer Financial, which analyzes banks on a zero- to five-star system, gave Achieva a five-star "superior" rating in the quarter ended June 30. For the same period, Sarasota Coastal received a one-star rating, signifying a "troubled" institution. It has about $11 million in capital, lost $3.6 million in the first six months of the year.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8242. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jeffmharrington.

Clearwater-based Achieva Credit Union and Sarasota Coastal Credit Union agree to merge 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 9:27pm]

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