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Wells Fargo puts name on 87 Wachovia branches in California

More than a year after taking over Wachovia Corp. during the worst of the financial crisis, Wells Fargo & Co. has finally put its name on 87 Wachovia branches in California.

The switchover took place last weekend. At the same time, the rest of Wachovia’s 187 California branches were merged into nearby locations owned by Wells. The company also closed 18 Wells offices as part of the integration.

The Wachovia locations, originally offices of Oakland-based World Savings, were generally smaller and less prominent than Wells Fargo branches.

Wachovia, once the nation’s fourth-largest bank, was based in Charlotte, N.C. It got into the California market by acquiring World Savings parent Golden West Financial Corp. in 2006, just before the mortgage market melted down.

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Ensuing losses on World’s specialty — pay-option adjustable-rate mortgages — critically wounded Wachovia, which nearly failed before Wells Fargo agreed to acquire it in a deal completed Dec. 31, 2008.

Wells Fargo says it now has 1,043 banking “stores” in California, the largest retail network in the state. Bank of America Corp. ranks No. 2 with 978 “banking centers” but says it has 25% of deposits in California, more than any other bank.

Wachovia and Wells Fargo offices already had been combined in Arizona, Nevada, Illinois and Colorado. Wells said its brand and stagecoach logo would go up at Wachovia branches in other states this year and next.

scott.reckard@latimes.com

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