12 CFR § 708a.305 - Disclosures and communications to members.

§ 708a.305 Disclosures and communications to members.

(a) After the board of directors approves a merger proposal and receives NCUA's authorization as described in §§ 708a.303 and 708a.304, the credit union must provide written notice of its intent to merge to each member who is eligible to vote on the merger. The notice to members must be mailed 90 calendar days and 30 calendar days before the date of the membership vote on the merger. A ballot must be included in the same envelope as the 30-day notice and only with the 30-day notice. A merging credit union may not distribute ballots with the 90-day notice, in any other written communications, or in person before the 30-day notice is sent.

(b)

(1) The notice to members must adequately describe the purpose and subject matter of the vote and clearly inform members that they may vote at the special meeting or by submitting the written ballot. The notice must state the date, time, and place of the meeting.

(2) The 90-day notice must state in a clear and conspicuous fashion that a written ballot will be mailed together with another notice 30 days before the date of the membership vote on merger. The 30-day notice must state in a clear and conspicuous fashion that a written ballot is included in the same envelope as the 30-day notice materials.

(3) For purposes of facilitating the member-to-member contact described in paragraph (f) of this section, the 90-day notice must indicate the number of credit union members eligible to vote on the merger proposal and state how many members have agreed to accept communications from the credit union in electronic form. The 90-day notice must also include the information listed in paragraph (g)(9) of this section.

(4) The member ballot must include:

(i) A brief description of the proposal (e.g., “Proposal: Approval of the Plan of Merger by which [insert name of credit union] will merge with a bank”);

(ii) Two blocks marked respectively as “FOR” and “AGAINST;” and

(iii) The following language: “A vote FOR the proposal means that you want your credit union to merge with and become a bank. A vote AGAINST the proposal means that you want your credit union to remain a credit union.” This language must be displayed in a clear and conspicuous fashion immediately beneath the FOR and AGAINST blocks.

(5) The ballot may also include voting instructions and the recommendation of the board of directors (i.e., “Your Board of Directors recommends a vote FOR the Plan of Merger”) but may not include any further information without the prior written approval of the Regional Director.

(c) For mergers into stock banks, an adequate description of the purpose and subject matter of the member vote on merger, as required by paragraph (b) of this section, must include:

(1) A clear and conspicuous disclosure that if the merger is approved the members will lose all of their ownership interests in the institution, including the right to vote, the right to share in the value of the institution should it be liquidated, the right to share in any extraordinary dividends, and the right to have the net worth of the institution managed in their best interests;

(2) A clear and conspicuous disclosure of any post-merger employment or consulting relationships offered by the bank to any of the credit union's directors and senior management officials and the amount of the associated compensation;

(3) A clear and conspicuous disclosure of how the merger of the credit union will affect the members' ability to obtain non-housing-related consumer loans from the bank because of the bank's obligations to satisfy statutory or regulatory lending requirements (if any). This disclosure should specify possible reductions in some kinds of loans to members;

(4) A clear and conspicuous statement of the merger value of the credit union, the total dollar amount the selected bank merger partner has agreed to pay to effect the merger, and the distribution formula the bank will use to determine each member's portion of that payment to be received upon completion of the merger.

(d) For mergers into mutual banks, an adequate description of the purpose and subject matter of the member vote on merger, as required by paragraph (b) of this section, must include:

(1) A clear and conspicuous disclosure of how the merger will affect members' voting rights including whether the bank bases voting rights on account balances;

(2) A clear and conspicuous disclosure that the merger could lead to members losing all of their ownership interests in the credit union if the bank subsequently converts to a stock institution and the members do not purchase stock;

(3) A clear and conspicuous disclosure of any post-merger employment or consulting relationships offered by the bank to the credit union's directors and senior management officials and the associated compensation for each;

(4) A clear and conspicuous disclosure of how the merger of the credit union will affect the members' ability to obtain non-housing-related consumer loans from the bank because of the bank's obligations to satisfy statutory or regulatory lending requirements (if any). This disclosure should specify possible reductions in some kinds of loans to members;

(5) A clear and conspicuous statement that, at the time of merger, the bank does or does not intend to convert to a stock institution or a mutual holding company structure;

(6) A clear and conspicuous statement of the merger value of the credit union, the total dollar amount the selected bank merger partner has agreed to pay to effect the merger, and the distribution formula the bank will use to determine each member's portion of that payment to be received upon completion of the merger; and

(7) If the bank plans to add one or more of the credit union's directors to its board or employ one or more senior officials of the credit union, a clear and conspicuous statement that bank could convert to a stock bank in the future and a comparison of the opportunities available to those officials and employees to obtain stock with the opportunities available to the depositors of the bank.

(e)

(1) A merging credit union must provide the following disclosures in a clear and conspicuous fashion with the 90-day and 30-day notices it sends to its members regarding the merger:

IMPORTANT REGULATORY DISCLOSURE ABOUT YOUR VOTE
The National Credit Union Administration, the Federal government agency that supervises credit unions, requires [insert name of credit union] to provide the following disclosures:
1. LOSS OF CREDIT UNION MEMBERSHIP. A vote “FOR” the proposed merger means you want your credit union to merge with and become a bank. A vote “AGAINST” the proposed merger means you want your credit union to remain a credit union.
2. [For Mergers into Stock Banks Only]. LOSS OF OWNERSHIP INTERESTS. If your credit union merges into the bank, you will lose all the ownership interests you currently have in the credit union and you will become a customer of the bank. The bank's stockholders own the bank, and the directors of the bank have a fiduciary responsibility to run the bank in the best interests of the stockholders, not the customers.
2. [For Mergers into Mutual Banks Only]. POTENTIAL PROFITS BY OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS. Merger into a mutual savings bank is often the first step in a two-step process to convert to a stock-issuing bank or holding company structure. In such a scenario, the officers and directors of the bank often profit by obtaining stock in excess of that available to other members.
3. RATES ON LOANS AND SAVINGS. If your credit union merges into the bank, you may experience changes in your loan and savings rates. Available historic data indicates that, for most loan products, credit unions on average charge lower rates than banks. For most savings products, credit unions on average pay higher rates than banks.

(2) This text must be placed in a box, must be the only text on the front side of a single piece of paper, and must be placed so that the member will see the text after reading the credit union's cover letter but before reading any other part of the member notice. The back side of the paper must be blank. A merging credit union may modify this text only with the prior written consent of the Regional Director and, in the case of a State chartered credit union, the appropriate State regulatory agency.

(f) All written communications from a merging credit union to its members regarding the merger must be written in a manner that is simple and easy to understand. Simple and easy to understand means the communications are written in plain language designed to be understood by ordinary consumers and use clear and concise sentences, paragraphs, and sections. For purposes of this part, examples of factors to be considered in determining whether a communication is in plain language and uses clear and concise sentences, paragraphs and sections include the use of short explanatory sentences; use of definite, concrete, everyday words; use of active voice; avoidance of multiple negatives; avoidance of legal and technical business terminology; avoidance of explanations that are imprecise and reasonably subject to different interpretations; and use of language that is not misleading.

(g)

(1) A merging credit union must mail or e-mail a requesting member's proper merger-related materials to other members eligible to vote if:

(i) A credit union's board of directors has adopted a proposal to merge;

(ii) A member makes a written request that the credit union mail or e-mail materials for the member;

(iii) The request is received by the credit union no later than 35 days after it sends out the 90-day member notice; and

(iv) The requesting member agrees to reimburse the credit union for the reasonable expenses, excluding overhead, of mailing or e-mailing the materials and also provides the credit union with an appropriate advance payment.

(2) A member's request must indicate if the member wants the materials mailed or e-mailed. If a member requests that the materials be mailed, the credit union will mail the materials to all eligible voters. If a member requests the materials be e-mailed, the credit union will e-mail the materials to all members who have agreed to accept communications electronically from the credit union. The subject line of the credit union's e-mail will be “Proposed Credit Union Merger - Views of Member (insert member name).”

(3)

(i) A merging credit union may, at its option, include the following statement with a member's material:

On (date), the board of directors of (name of merging credit union) adopted a proposal to merge the credit union into a bank. Credit union members who wish to express their opinions about the proposed merger to other members may provide those opinions to (name of credit union). By law, the credit union, at the requesting members' expense, must then send those opinions to the other members. The attached document represents the opinion of a member (or group of members) of this credit union. This opinion is a personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the management or directors of the credit union.

(ii) A merging credit union may not add anything other than this statement to a member's material without the prior approval of the Regional Director.

(4) The term “proper merger-related materials” does not include materials that:

(i) Due to size or similar reasons are impracticable to mail or e-mail;

(ii) Are false or misleading with respect to any material fact;

(iii) Omit a material fact necessary to make the statements in the material not false or misleading;

(iv) Relate to a personal claim or a personal grievance, or solicit personal gain or business advantage by or on behalf of any party;

(v) Relate to any matter, including a general economic, political, racial, religious, social, or similar cause, that is not significantly related to the proposed merger;

(vi) Directly or indirectly and without expressed factual foundation impugn a person's character, integrity, or reputation;

(vii) Directly or indirectly and without expressed factual foundation make charges concerning improper, illegal, or immoral conduct; or

(viii) Directly or indirectly and without expressed factual foundation make statements impugning the stability and soundness of the credit union.

(5) If a merging credit union believes some or all of a member's request is not proper it must submit the member materials to the Regional Director within seven days of receipt. The credit union must include with its transmittal letter a specific statement of why the materials are not proper and a specific recommendation for how the materials should be modified, if possible, to make them proper. The Regional Director will review the communication, communicate with the requesting member, and respond to the credit union within seven days with a determination on the propriety of the materials. The credit union must then mail or e-mail the material to the members if so directed by NCUA.

(6) A credit union must ensure that its members receive all materials that meet the requirements of § 708a.305(g) on or before the date the members receive the 30-day notice and associated ballot. If a credit union cannot meet this delivery requirement, it must postpone mailing the 30-day notice until it can deliver the member materials. If a credit union postpones the mailing of the 30-day notice, it must also postpone the special meeting by the same number of days. When the credit union has completed the delivery, it must inform the requesting member that the delivery was completed and provide the number of recipients.

(7) The term “appropriate advance payment” means:

(i) For requests to mail materials to all eligible voters, a payment in the amount of 150 percent of the first class postage rate times the number of mailings, and

(ii) For requests to e-mail materials only to members that have agreed to accept electronic communications, a payment in the amount of 200 dollars.

(8) If a credit union posts merger-related information or material on its Web site, then it must simultaneously make a portion of its Web site available free of charge to its members to post and share their opinions on the merger. A link to the portion of the Web site available to members to post their views on the merger must be marked “Members: Share your views on the proposed merger and see other members' views” and the link must also be visible on all pages on which the credit union posts its own merger-related information or material, as well as on the credit union's homepage. If a credit union believes a particular member submission is not proper for posting, it will provide that submission to the Regional Director for review as described in paragraph (g)(5) of this section. The credit union may also post a content-neutral disclaimer using language similar to the language in paragraph (g)(3)(i) of this section.

(9) A merging credit union must inform members with the 90-day notice that if they wish to provide their opinions about the proposed merger to other members they can submit their opinions in writing to the credit union no later than 35 days from the date of the notice and the credit union will forward those opinions to other members. The 90-day notice will provide a contact at the credit union for delivery of communications, will explain that members must agree to reimburse the credit union's costs of transmitting the communication including providing an advance payment, and will refer members to this section of NCUA's rules for further information about the communication process. The credit union, at its option, may include additional factual information about the communication process with its 90-day notice.

(10) A group of members may make a joint request that the credit union send its materials to other members. For purposes of paragraphs (g)(2) and (g)(3) of this section, the credit union will use the group name provided by the group.

(h) If it chooses, a credit union may seek a preliminary determination from the Regional Director regarding any of the notices required under this subchapter and its proposed methods and procedures applicable to the membership merger vote. The Regional Director will make a preliminary determination regarding the notices and methods and procedures applicable to the membership vote within 30 calendar days of receipt of a credit union's request for review unless the Regional Director extends the period as necessary to request additional information or review a credit union's submission. A credit union's prior submission of any notice or proposed voting procedures does not relieve the credit union of its obligation to certify the results of the membership vote required by § 708a.307 or eliminate the right of the Regional Director to disapprove the merger if the credit union fails to conduct the membership vote in a fair and legal manner consistent with the Federal Credit Union Act and these rules.

[75 FR 81387, Dec. 28, 2010, as amended at 84 FR 1607, Feb. 5, 2019]

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