JPMorgan Chase & Co. will get to work this spring on the rebranding of 708 California branches it acquired from Washington Mutual Inc. to show the state's importance to the New York company.
"California is why we bought the company, so we want to get the brand out as soon as possible," said company spokesman Tom Kelly. Changing signs well in advance of the companies' integration is an acknowledgement that the Wamu brand was "especially damaged" in the state, he said.
JPMorgan Chase bought most of Wamu's assets in a September transaction brokered by the government. It will likely be October before computer systems are switched at the California branches, which make up about 40% of the Wamu branches that will remain open and hold roughly half of the Seattle thrift company's deposits. Mr. Kelly said JPMorgan Chase will likely integrate the Pacific Northwest in May, overlapping markets such as Chicago and New York in July, and all other branches in the fall. It also plans to close about 400 of the acquired Wamu branches.
The $2.3 trillion asset company also said Tuesday that it would invest $300 million this year to renovate branches and another $75 million to open 20 branches.
It also pledged $7.2 million in 2009 grants to California nonprofits.