Sterling Financial (STSA) in Spokane, Wash., has gone ahead with rebranding its California operations as Argent Bank despite its recent merger announcement.

The $9.9 billion-asset Sterling unified the operations of its two California units under the Argent brand on Monday. Previously its Northern California branches operated as Sonoma Bank and its San Diego-area branches bore the name Borrego Springs Bank.

Sterling had announced the rebranding plan for California last month as part of a long-term operational and marketing makeover. Then this month Umpqua Holdings (UMPQ) in Portland, Ore., agreed to pay $2 billion to acquire Sterling. The deal, which is set to close in the first half of 2014, would create a $22 billion-asset regional lender.

Sterling has two regional brands at present: Sterling Bank in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and Argent Bank in California. It had said it cannot use the Sterling name in California because of a dispute with another bank.

"We are pleased to unite all of our California banking operations under Argent Bank," David DePillo, the vice chairman of Sterling Financial, said in a news release. "With 16 locations in the state, a consistent, cohesive identity was vital in helping our teams to best deliver financial solutions to California customers."

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