Desjardins Credit Union has agreed to amalgamate with the much larger Meridian Credit Union under the Meridian banner, creating an organization with 263,000 members and $8 billion in assets under management.

"If approved by the membership of both credit unions in April, and required regulatory approvals are received, the amalgamation will reinforce Meridian's position as the largest credit union in Ontario and a leader in the co-operative movement in Canada," the two organizations said Tuesday in a joint news release.

The amalgamation includes all 19 Desjardins Credit Union branches, central loans unit and head office.

However, it excludes Desjardins Credit Union's six agencies, which would be maintained and operated by the Quebec-based Desjardins Group through the Federation des caisses populaires de l'Ontario.

"This is good news for members of both Meridian and Desjardins Credit Union as well as the credit union movement in Ontario," said Meridian chairman Don Ariss.

"We will have additional resources to improve products and services to our members and offer Ontarians an increasingly competitive, co-operative option for mortgages, loans, wealth management and other financial services."

Desjardins chairman Paul E. Garfinkel said that after having completed a number of restructuring initiatives and reviewing several long-term strategic options "we believe that joining forces with Meridian under the Meridian banner is in the long-term interests of our employees, members and stakeholders."

Results of the vote by Meridian members are expected to be known April 19, and those of Desjardins membership vote on April 27.

Meridian Credit Union is Ontario's largest credit union, serving more than 213,000 Members in communities across south-central Ontario and with more than $6.6 billion in assets under administration.

Desjardins is an Ontario-based financial service co-operative, owned by its members and with $1.4 billion in assets under administration. It was founded in 2003 when it acquired the Province of Ontario Savings Office.

While the creation of Desjardins Credit Union and the acquisition was funded by the Desjardins Group, Desjardins Credit Union is a separate and autonomous Ontario co-operative.