Stock traders are wondering whether Westamerica Bancorp. will press to cut the price it agreed to pay for Napa Valley Bancorp or even walk away from the deal entirely.

Westamerica, San Rafael, Calif, agreed to swap stock valued at about $52 million. But disclosure documents show that Westamerica can trim the price or pull out of the merger if Napa Valley, which is plagued by loan problems, fails to meet strict credit quality tests.

If provisions or writedowns take Napa Valley's book value below $8 a share, Westamerica can renegotiate terms or call the deal off. Napa Valley's adjusted book value at the end of June was $9.26 a share.

Westamerica chief executive David L. Payne says it's too early to say what the loan review will show. "We're determined to protect ourselves from deteriorating credit quality at the target, but I am assuming the transaction is going to be completed."

Napa Valley chief executive Bryan C. Hansen did not return telephone calls.

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