Central California's largest bank holding company has wasted little time revising its expansion strategy after failing to pick up any branches in the recent Wells Fargo & Co. auction.

A day after learning that the consortium it was a part of had lost in the bidding for 61 branches being divested by Wells, $1.3 billion-asset Vallicorp Holdings Inc. agreed to buy Auburn Bancorp for $12.5 million in stock.

Fresno-based Vallicorp, which was interested in six Wells branches in the Central Valley, was one of nine community banks drawn together by the investment banking firm Hovde Financial Inc. to bid.

Irwindale, Calif.-based H.F. Ahmanson & Co., parent of Home Savings of America, won the auction Thursday.

Vallicorp's hope of picking up Wells branches isn't dead yet, however. Wolfgang T.N. Muelleck, Vallicorp's chief financial officer, noted that Home Savings already has a strong presence in the Central Valley, and he speculated that the thrift may want to sell some of its holdings there.

"We certainly will talk to Home Savings about it," he said. "It's something we'd like to do."

Meanwhile, Vallicorp will concentrate on enhancing its holdings in the Sacramento, Calif., area, where it already has some branches. The acquisition of Auburn, parent company of $76 million-asset Bank of Commerce, will enable Vallicorp to move into the Sierra foothills northeast of Sacramento.

"The region between Sacramento and Reno (Nev.) is experiencing a lot of high-tech growth, and it's really been very vibrant," said Mr. Muelleck.

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