DoJ: Updated Bank Merger Process to Consider Credit Union Competition

Learn why the Department of Justice's updated bank merger process will take credit union competition into consideration.

David Baumann


Jun 21



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David Baumann

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David Baumann

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Comments made at Brookings Institute seminar on promoting competition in banking.

The Justice Department is updating its bank merger review process to better account for all competition—including competition from credit unions, Jonathan Kanter, the head of the department’s Antitrust Division, said Tuesday.

In speaking at a Brookings Institution seminar on promoting competition in banking, Kanter, the assistant attorney general for the division, said that bank merger guidelines have not been updated since 1995.

And while he did not say specifically that the department hopes to review credit union mergers, he did note that in developing a “Competitive Factor Analysis” for individual bank mergers, the competition from credit unions will be taken into account.

“It’s highly fact-specific,” he said. “So, to the extent that credit unions are relevant to the dynamics of competition, with a particular transaction, of course,” they will be taken into account.

Backstory and Context

The Biden Administration is reviewing the federal government’s competition policies. Credit union merger policies are not part of that review, but bank mergers are.

Kanter said that the banking industry of 1995—when the DoJ’s bank merger guidelines were developed—bears little resemblance to the banking world in 2023.

“The world has changed,” he said. “Competition has changed,” and the department will “look at all competitive factors.”

More on the Seminar

Kanter’s session was moderated by Aaron Klein, a senior fellow at Brookings and a long-time credit union critic. He continued that criticism Tuesday, saying that the requirement that credit union members have a common bond has been eroded.

He said, for instance, that “anybody who’s a friend of space,” can join the NASA Federal Credit Union.

Such criticism is not new for Klein, who wrote in an American Banker op-ed in 2018, “At a minimum, if the NCUA is going down the path of allowing anyone to be part of a few credit unions, then it ought to require compliance with the spirit of the Community Reinvestment Act and enhance oversight of executive compensation.”

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