By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Aluísio Alves
SAO PAULO, March 11 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp on Tuesday named Rodrigo Xavier as the top executive for its wholesale and investment banking unit in Brazil, where the second-largest U.S. lender has enjoyed fast growth in recent years.
Xavier, a former head of UBS AG's Banco UBS Pactual SA investment banking unit in Brazil and founder of investment firm Vinci Partners, will replace Alexandre Bettamio at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters. Bettamio was named in September as Bank of America's head of Latin American operations, based in New York.
Xavier will report to Bettamio and is expected to start on March 31.
"Brazil is a core component of our global strategy and a country where we have seen striking success," the memo quoted Bettamio as saying. "We will look to Rodrigo's entrepreneurial spirit and ability to deliver strong results as we continue to drive our strategy forward."
Bettamio became head of Brazil investment banking for Merrill Lynch & Co in March 2008, and was made chief executive of the unit after Bank of America took it over in Sept. 2008. Under Bettamio, Bank of America Merrill Lynch expanded into corporate and wholesale banking, increased corporate client coverage by more than 50 percent and became one of the top two equity underwriters in Brazil.
Xavier, a Brazilian with more than 20 years of experience in different segments of the local financial industry, left Vinci Partners last year after a four-year stint as a partner and head of asset management, among other executive positions.
The executive will "work closely with the regional heads across all lines of business to ensure we capture the many market opportunities," Bettamio was quoted by the memo as saying.