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Alternative capital questions arise at NCUA symposium
WASHINGTON (6/11/09)—National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Gigi Hyland said this week that while the NCUA is studying the concept of allowing credit unions to pursue supplemental capital, there is no set timeline for such a move. Hyland was addressing the NCUA’s symposium highlighting the 75th anniversary of the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act. She noted that the NCUA is conducting studies to develop an official position on the issue and to prepare the board for possible discussion of alternative capital with legislators. Speaking on his own behalf at the symposium, NCUA Deputy Executive Director Larry Fazio also addressed alternative capital. He said he has mixed feelings about the use of alternative capital, and that any move toward allowing alternative sources should only be done after intense deliberation. The optimal approach to the issue, Fazio opined, would be to allow the U.S. Congress to address this issue legislatively. Fazio questioned the overall benefit of allowing alternative capital, saying that larger credit unions may be the only ones that benefit. Internationally, credit unions have issued alternative capital with mixed results, he said. However, fellow panelist Andy Poprawa, president/CEO of Deposit Insurance Corp. of Ontario, said that while the structure of credit unions in Canada is somewhat different from those in the United States, Canadian credit unions that have issued alternative capital through shares have not sacrificed their institutional safety. They also, he said, have maintained the same levels of protections. Canadian credit unions that have issued shares have also been able to keep the core values of the credit union movement while enhancing their financial standing as well. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports expanding the sources of capital available to credit unions. Such expansion, CUNA says, will support continued credit union growth and help credit unions provide the services that members demand, while meeting statutory net worth requirements.


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