The acquisition of Phoenix-based Valley National Corp. by Banc One Corp., based in Columbus, Ohio, in a $1.5 billion stock swap became official Wednesday, which means that the 35 Valley Bank & Trust offices in Utah are now branches of Bank One Utah.

Jeff Gaia, president and chief executive officer of the Valley Banks in Utah will retain the same position for the new Bank One Utah which has about 450 employees across the state.Gaia said the Valley Bank signs are now being removed and temporary Bank One signs will be in place on all 35 branches by the opening of business on Monday.

Lawrence Alder, president of the Utah Bankers Assoc., said Bank One is a well-run banking company that will be a strong force in Utah's banking community.

"It's a little sad to see a name like Valley Bank, which has been around for so long, drop out of the picture," said Alder. "But that's the way life is, and we think it's a good move for the folks at Valley, and we're looking forward to working with the Bank One people."

The merger of Valley National into Banc One was first announced on April 16, 1992. It took nearly a year of obtaining regulatory approvals to complete the deal in which 1.2 shares of Banc One stock were exchanged for each share of Valley National.

Valley National Corp., now called Banc One Arizona Corp., has 205 offices in Arizona, Utah and California. On Dec. 31 it had assets of $11.4 billion. Richard J. Lehmann, chairman and CEO of what is now Banc One Arizona, said affiliating with Banc One "will enable us to take advantage of expanding economies in Arizona and Utah more quickly than if we were trying to do it on our own."

With the merger, Banc One's assets are about $70 billion, moving it up from 10th place to 8th place among the nation's largest banking companies with 63 banks in 10 states - Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

But don't look for Banc One to be satisfied with its latest acquisition. Gaia said Banc One, currently about 4th largest in the Utah market, likes to be first or second where it operates.

"One of their stated businesses is buying banks - they define that as a line of business. With the completion of the Valley National merger, new acquisitions will be high on the list of activities."

Two weeks ago, Valley Utah acquired the home equity credit line of First Federal Savings. Gaia said other such portfolio acquisitions along with "affiliations with existing franchises" would be among growth opportunities the new Utah bank will seek.

What will the change mean to the new Bank One's Utah customers? Gaia said the bank is known nationally as innovators in consumer products and middle-market lending.

"They bring some technology and resources in the form of higher capital levels and advertising strength that, from a customer perspective, means new and better products in the not-too-distant future."

Also, he said, "Higher capital levels means we can now make larger commercial loans."

In additions to its banks, Banc One Corp. also operates several other companies engaged in data processing, venture capital, investment and merchant banking, trust brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing, mortgage banking, consumer finance and insurance.