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Landmark CU applies to buy savings bank
NEW BERLIN, Wis. (9/26/12)--Wisconsin's largest credit union, Landmark CU, has filed applications with federal and state regulators to acquire Hartford Savings Bank, a state-chartered mutual savings bank headquartered in Hartford.

Pending regulators' approval, the $2 billion asset, New Berlin-based Landmark CU expects to  add the bank's more than $190 million in assets, 10,000 customers and branch locations in Hartford, Juneau and Hubertus by the end of the year.

Although Landmark has completed 10 credit union mergers in the past three years, this is its first such transaction with a bank.

"Our institutions are strikingly similar in our mutual memberships, shared beliefs in excellent customer service and focus on employee satisfaction and community involvement," said Ron Kase, Landmark CU CEO, in a press release.  He noted that Landmark's "broader offering of products and services will bring a variety of benefits to the area." The credit union is a leading mortgage lender in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties and the largest auto lender in southeastern Wisconsin.

Discussions between the two institutions began in June and each CEO and board agreed quickly to the acquisition. Landmark is completing the paperwork required by the National Credit Union Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions' Office of Credit Unions and Banking Division.

Landmark said it intends to keep all three bank branch locations and will add Hartford Savings Bank's 40 employees to its staff. Although the bank CEO and Chairman of the Board Ken Braun had planned to retire from active management in January, he will stay on a community board of directors to be established in the acquisition and will maintain an office at the bank's Hartford headquarters.

Tom Haley, the bank's president and chief operating officer, will become Landmark's regional resident/chief risk officer and continue to work from the bank's headquarters.  His position is new to Landmark and reflects its increased size.

The credit union is also evaluating Hartford as a location for a future regional center to handle a range of administration functions. Landmark will continue the bank's community commitments with the Schauer Arts & Activities Center, Medical Center Foundation of Hartford, The Hartford Area Foundation and other organizations.

Landmark is not the first credit union to propose acquiring a bank.  In March, GFA FCU in Gardner, Mass., announced it would acquire New Hampshire-based Monadnock Community Bank's assets and liability after the bank reported a $1.8 million loss in 2011 (News Now March 5). That bank, however, had been initially chartered as AWANE CU.

Last year, United FCU, St. Joseph, Mich., and Griffith Savings Bank, Griffith, Ind., announced they had agreed to the bank's purchase by the credit union (News Now July 29, 2011).

Landmark's acquisition of Hartford Savings Bank "allows us to strategically expand our branch locations and better serve all customers within our charter area," said Kase. Landmark currently serves members in Washington and Dodge counties from branches in Germantown, West Bend and Watertown.

"One of the many positives of this acquisition is that we're a strong, successful Wisconsin financial institutions that's keeping jobs in the area. We also have a track record of involvement and commitment to the communities we serve," said Kase.

Landmark has 489 employees serving more than 195,000 members at 24 locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin.


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