Fairwinds Credit Union buying Citizens Bank of Florida

Fairwinds Credit Union is set to expand its commercial lending portfolio by acquiring a community bank.

The $3.9 billion-asset credit union based in Orlando, Florida announced Thursday that it is buying Citizens Bank of Florida, headquartered in Oviedo, which has $489 million of assets. The companies did not disclose financial details of the acquisition, which is set to close in December.

“As an organization with deep roots in Seminole County, Citizens Bank of Florida shares Fairwinds’ values of commitment to community and putting our members and customers first,” Larry Tobin, president and CEO of the credit union, said in a press release. “We look forward to welcoming Citizens Bank of Florida customers as new members of Fairwinds. They will have access to 31 additional branch locations throughout Central Florida and a robust online and mobile banking platform. Additionally, Citizens’ customers will still feel right at home as Fairwinds will be retaining Citizens’ employees.”

This is Fairwinds’ second purchase of a bank, the first being its purchase of the New Smyrna Beach-based Friends Bank, which had $95 million of assets.

This acquisition is the ninth deal so far this year where a credit union has purchased a bank, according to American Banker tallies. The record number for deals of this kind to be reported in one year, 16, occurred in 2019. Prior deals include Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s purchase of Lake Area Bank in Lindstrom, Minnesota and Orion Federal Credit Union in Memphis’ purchase of Financial Federal Bank, which is also based in Memphis.

“For 75 years, Citizens Bank of Florida has done a wonderful job of serving the constituents of our community by providing honesty and fair dealing, first articulated by our bank’s founder,” Rick Lee, Citizens Bank of Florida president and CEO, said in the release. “We are very confident that Fairwinds has our customers’ best interest in mind and will provide the outstanding service they deserve. I am equally confident that Fairwinds will continue our efforts supporting the communities in which we operate.”

Should the deal pass regulatory and shareholder muster, Fairwinds will expand its commercial portfolio from its current $387 million to well over $600 million.

Fairwinds Credit Union was advised in this transaction by Shutts & Bowen as legal counsel and Skyway Capital Markets as financial adviser. Citizens Bank of Florida was advised in this transaction by Smith Mackinnon as legal counsel and Hovde Group as financial adviser.

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