(Corrects first paragraph to clarify that Ruth's departure is for a leave of absence)
May 12 (Reuters) - Kim Ruth, who was drafted from the commercial banking ranks of Bank of America two months ago to take a senior sales management position at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, is taking a leave of absence from the company, a Merrill spokeswoman said Monday.
Ruth was elevated to the position of Southwest Region executive as part of a broad restructuring of Merrill's sales management ranks in March by John Thiel, head of the brokerage and private banking network owned by Bank of America. The firm has executives in 11 regions.
The appointment of Ruth, who was to have worked from California, took some Merrill brokers by surprise because she had been a business banking executive for Bank of America in Texas but had no direct brokerage experience. The bank purchased Merrill Lynch in January 2009 during the financial crisis.
Ruth has been replaced as Southwest Region executive by Ben Prince, who manages a complex of Merrill branches with 170 brokers in the San Francisco area. Prince, who was previously regional managing director for Merrill's Northwest Region, will relocate from northern California to Los Angeles in his new position.
"Kim Ruth has made the decision to resign as market executive for the Southwest and will take a personal leave from the company," the spokeswoman wrote in an email. "We support Kim in her decision to do what is right for her and her family, and wish her well as she decides the next chapter in her career." (Reporting by Jed Horowitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)