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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Manatí Cooperative completes acquisition of Ciales Cooperative


Following the purchase, the Manatí Cooperative will expand by two branches in Ciales to a total of seven locations. The two branches will be renamed Ciales Centro and Ciales Expreso.

By The Star Staff


The Manatí Cooperative has completed the acquisition of the assets and assumption of the liabilities of the Ciales Cooperative, Mabel Jiménez Miranda, executive president of the Public Corporation for the Supervision and Insurance of Cooperatives of Puerto Rico (COSSEC by its Spanish acronym), said Sunday.


It was the second merger of the credit union or cooperative system following the transfer of assets and assumption of liabilities from Centro Coop to the Jesús Obrero Savings and Credit Cooperative.


COSSEC said the Ciales Cooperative purchase, which is expected to benefit some 12,000 members, cost $50 million.


Following the purchase, the Manatí cooperative, which has 26,000 members, besides adding the aforementioned 12,000 members to its roster, will expand by two branches in Ciales to a total of seven locations. The two branches will be renamed Ciales Centro and Ciales Expreso. The Manati Cooperative already has five branches in Manatí, Barceloneta and Vega Baja.


“With this transaction, we are strengthening the cooperative [credit union] system in the northern region. Members can be sure that now they will have better services and products,” Jiménez Miranda said after highlighting COSSEC’s commitment to contributing to the well-being of members through fair, equitable, and reliable supervision and inspection.”


She emphasized that “the cooperative movement continues to grow.”


“The increase in members continues, and we continue to see a sustained increase in the loan portfolio, by 33 percent in all the cooperatives on the island,” she said.


Ciales Co-op was put up for sale after a year and a half of COSSEC receivership due to liquidity problems and administrative deficiencies. Jiménez Miranda said the intervention process made it possible to establish internal controls to protect members’ shares and deposits, managing to avoid further losses.


She celebrated the transaction between the two institutions and recognized the will and responsibility of the employees of Ciales Cooperative who, during the receivership, were working hand in hand with COSSEC to push the cooperative forward.


Manatí Co-op Executive President Cándido Rivera López welcomed all the employees of the Ciales cooperative who will start working at the financial institution.


“The financial center of the north, Co-op Manatí, arrives in Ciales to continue the legacy that this institution (Ciales Coop) gave this town,” he said. “We welcome all partners to the great family of Co-op Manatí.”


Jiménez Miranda noted that “with these events, we reaffirm that the cooperative institutions that are part of the cooperative system of the island can unite with the sole purpose of ensuring the best interests of their members and demonstrating the solidity of the system.”


The transactions occurred two months after the National Credit Union Administration and COSSEC signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on and provide staff training opportunities, identify enhanced supervision approaches, and develop methods to resolve troubled cooperatives promptly.


The cooperative system in Puerto Rico continues to grow in size and complexity. Between 2018 and 2022, the number of members in the Puerto Rican cooperative system increased by roughly 12 percent to more than 1.1 million individuals, and total assets, capital, deposits and loans have risen by an even greater pace during that same period.


The cooperative system previously went through a troubled period because of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy. Seven cooperatives unsuccessfully sued the government, the oversight board and COSSEC, contending they had been coerced into purchasing government bonds whose value was questionable following a bankruptcy filing by the island’s government.

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