January 2, 2013 – 6:25 pm

Chetco FCU of Harbor, Oregon, moves from the frying pan to the fire as the National Credit Union Administration announced Friday that it had dived the carcass among two other credit unions. The failure of  Chetco FCU brings to 14 the number of failures in 2012.

The NCUA announced late Friday that after 15 months in conservatorship, it will liquidate the $259 million Chetco FCU of Harbor, Ore., effective Dec. 31.

Assets will be split between two successful bidders: the $960 million Coast Central Credit Union of Eureka, Calif., and the $583 million Rogue FCU of Medford, Ore.

The 56,000-member Rogue will purchase and assume Chetco’s five Oregon branches and memberships, while the 55,000-member Coast Central will purchase and assume the Crescent City, Calif. branch and California memberships.

Rogue and Coast Central will reopen Chetco’s former Oregon and California branches, respectively, Jan. 2, 2013, the NCUA said.

Chetco’s fortunes turned south in 2010, when the credit union posted a nearly $17 million net loss, fueled by nearly $18 million in loan loss provisions, according to NCUA Financial Performance Reports posted online.

Loan delinquencies, primarily in commercial real estate lending, skyrocketed during 2010, increasing from 2.07% as of year-end 2009 to 10.41% just one year later. During that same period, net worth plunged from 9.07% to 5.01%.

The board attempted to right the ship in 2011, hiring Diane Johnson as CEO in July. However, the NCUA placed Chetco into conservatorship Sept. 23, 2011, and replaced Johnson with Gary Jester, who dusted off his suit after previously retiring from the $1 billion Advancial FCU of Dallas. By Dec. 31, 2011, Chetco was $34.5 million in the red with -6.44% net worth and 18.76% delinquencies.

Jester was able to apply a tourniquet to the bleeding, posting a relatively mild $525,973 net loss as of Sept. 30 of this year. However, loan losses were just too much to overcome: Chetco reported 23.81% delinquencies as of Sept. 30 and -7.31% net worth.

As of Sept. 30, the majority of Chetco’s $60 million in reportable delinquencies were adjustable rate mortgages, numbering nearly $46 million. Another $12 million in fixed rate mortgages were also reported.

The credit union also reported that $33 million of its delinquent loans were business loans, and nearly $13 million were participation loans.

Chartered in 1957, Chetco was a community credit union serving people who live, work or worship in Coos and Curry counties in Oregon and Del Norte County in California. At the time of liquidation and subsequent purchase and assumption by Rogue and Coast Central, Chetco served 24,926 members and had approximately $259 million in deposits.

Chetco is the fourteenth federally insured credit union liquidation in 2012.