* Mustier used to be top banker at Societe Generale
* Mustier had overseen rogue trader Jerome Kerviel
(Adds analyst comment, background)
MILAN, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Italian lender UniCredit CRDI.MI named former Societe Generale SOGN.PA top executive Jean-Pierre Mustier as its investment banking chief on Thursday in a sign of commitment to its international business.
The appointment of Mustier, 54, ends a three-month power vacuum after Sergio Ermotti quit in a management reshuffle following the ouster of former boss Alessandro Profumo, who built UniCredit into Italy’s largest bank and a European player.
The appointment of a head of the unit, which generates almost two thirds of group profit, is a key step in defining the strategy of new Chief Executive Federico Ghizzoni, who ran operations in eastern Europe before rising to the top job.
Giulio Battisti, a fund manager at Milan portfolio manager Horatius SIM, said Mustier’s international contacts could boost UniCredit’s European role in corporate and investment banking.
“It’s a return, or rather a reconfirmation of UniCredit’s more international calling,” he said.
Mustier, one of Europe’s most highly regarded investment bankers before the crisis, left SocGen in 2009. During his time as head of investment banking there, he was the boss of rogue trader Jerome Kerviel, who was sentenced in October to three years in prison and ordered to repay the bank the 4.9 billion euros it lost on his unauthorised deals. [ID:nLDE6940L9]
The choice of a top foreign banker such as Mustier could offset any trend by UniCredit to refocus on its domestic market with Profumo’s departure last year, Battisti added.
An analyst said that since Mustier was French and coming to UniCredit as an outsider, he would be better positioned to make tough choices in any restructuring.
“I see UniCredit as an Italian bank with a little bit of German inside it. They probably chose Mercier because he’s above and separate from both sides,” said the analyst, who asked for anonymity.
Mustier is a graduate of the French elite ‘grande ecole’ system. He began his career at Societe Generale in 1987 at the options division and quit in 2009 after having worked in North America, Asia and London.
During Mustier’s tenure the investment banking division doubled its annual profits to more than 2 billion euros.
He had been tipped to head the bank as chairman and chief executive, but the Kerviel scandal put paid to that.
Ermotti, a close ally of Profumo, is leaving UniCredit to head the Europe, Middle East and Africa unit at Switzerland's biggest bank UBS UBSN.VX. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Will Waterman)
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