EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (12/19/08)--A merger between Edina, Minn.-based REAL Financial CU and Royal CU in Eau Claire, Wis., will result in a $1 billion-asset credit union serving 120,000 members. The merger is expected to be completed by Dec. 31. The credit union will have 14 branches and will be ranked as the sixth largest credit union in the two-state area. REAL will continue to operate under its brand name while operations are merged into RCU over the next year. REAL members will experience no operating changes in the immediate future, and no staff reductions are expected, according to Charles Grossklaus, RCU CEO. Dan Wickstrom, REAL’s current CEO, will continue to oversee REAL branches as regional manager. RCU will offer REAL’s members new products and services early next year. RCU will be able to use REAL’s 30 Twin Cities-area shared financial service centers in the second half of 2009, Grossklaus said. REAL’s board and leadership have been considering a merger for two years. “Our realtor members were on the frontline of the housing market crisis,” Wickstrom said. “They were the first to telegraph the drop in housing transactions and their incomes.” The $30 million-asset REAL serves employees of firms affiliated with the Minnesota Association of Realtors and members of the Western Wisconsin Realtors and their families. REAL has incurred $2.5 million in unpaid loans since 2006 due to members’ declining incomes. “RCU sees great value and opportunity in the realtor markets in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Wickstrom said. RCU has $909 million in assets.