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California and the West

Wachovia Plans Western Base

July 19, 2006|From the Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wachovia Corp., which is acquiring Golden West Financial Corp. in a $25.5-billion deal, plans to set up its new Western region headquarters in Golden West's home city of Oakland.

The deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter and would give Charlotte-based Wachovia its first major West Coast foothold.

Wachovia, the nation's fourth-largest bank, has yet to name an executive to head the western region, which will also include Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Illinois.

Wachovia began its move into California by acquiring Westcorp and its 19 branches in the southern part of the state in March before beginning the Golden West acquisition in May.

Community groups worried about the loss of Golden West applauded the decision to keep a presence in Oakland.

"It's a very good decision," said Robert Gnaizda, policy director and general counsel at the Berkeley-based Greenlining Institute. "But as I told [Wachovia Chief Executive] Ken Thompson on Friday, that's only part of it."

The community group wants Thompson to make frequent visits to the state himself and has begun discussing the bank's community reinvestment plans for the state after rejecting an initial plan that it says doesn't provide enough money.

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