Members of two of Utah's largest credit unions have unanimously approved what would be the largest merger in the state's history between two healthy credit unions.

Utah State Credit Union and Mountain America Credit Union must now await approval from federal and state regulators before creating the state's second largest credit union with more than $280 million in assets."We are pleased with the results (of last week's elections). The merger will make us a lucrative organization with 23 branches throughout the state," Utah State president Grant Clayburn said.

Under terms of the proposed agreement, the new institution would keep the Mountain America name, while Clayburn would be president and Mountain America's former president S. Douglas Cline would be second in command.

Clayburn said the merger is a "natural" helping both companies strengthen their weaknesses, while lowering fixed costs and improving profitability. "We have a strong loan demand, and Mountain America has a large savings pool, which will give us the way of maintaining that strong demand," he said.

The merger provides an economical expansion without duplication for both institutions, giving Utah State new offices in Bountiful and Provo and to Mountain America branches in St. George, Cedar City and Richfield. Mountain America was also due for a new computer system and larger headquarters, which Utah State offers at its home offices at 660 S. Second East.

Clayburn said all offices of both credit unions will operate after the merger.

Mountain America is the state's second-largest credit union, with 33,000 members and assets of $133.9 million as of June 30, while Utah State is the third-largest with 54,000 members and assets of $147.3 million.

The merger would create a single institutions with $281.2 million in assets, ranking second only to America First Credit Union, which has $478.7 million in assets.

Maintaining the Mountain America name would reflect the wide ranging membership served by both credit unions, Clayburn said.

The state's Commissioner of Financial Institutions said a voluntary merger between two large, healthy credit unions would be the first consolidation of its kind in Utah. "We usually merge a smaller one that's in trouble with a larger one."

Being a first, rules on membership approval have been made as the process moved along, he said, noting state law doesn't provide guidelines on how and how much credit union members should be informed about a "healthy" merger before it takes place.

But regulators have attended the shareholder meetings and monitored the information campaign to be sure members knew what they were voting on.

"I don't think members have anything to worry about; the merger is economically sound," Sutton said.

Opposition could come from members who fear a larger membership may spoil exclusive benefits enjoyed by small institutions. But, only a fraction of the total membership of each credit union cast ballots last week; and of those who did, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the merger.

Sutton said state approval should come quickly and an OK from the National Credit Union Administration could take up to two months.