BancWest Corp. of Honolulu could cut as much as 44% of SierraWest Bancorp's staff as it completes its acquisition of the Truckee, Calif., bank.

BancWest plans to cut about 150 employees and shutter four of SierraWest's 20 branches, said Joseph K. Morford, banking analyst at First Security Van Kasper.

Cost reductions of 35%, projected by BancWest management, will come mostly from cuts in back-office staff and consolidation, Mr. Morford said Tuesday.

William T. Fike, president and chief executive of SierraWest, could not confirm the staff-cut figure. But he said he expects BancWest to act "prudently and reasonably."

"In the conversations we've had with them, they say they're trying to consolidate duplicate back-office operations but don't want to disrupt our strong customer contacts," said Mr. Fike, who will join BancWest to head small-business lending.

BancWest officials were unavailable to comment.

BancWest is the result of the Nov. 1 merger of First Hawaiian Bank of Honolulu and Bank of the West in San Francisco.

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