To head its international private bank, American Express Bank Ltd. has hired the man who formerly ran private banking operations at BankAmerica Corp.

W. Richard Holmes, who left San Francisco-based BankAmerica last month, began work in New York last week as a managing director at American Express Bank.

He replaces J. Barry Brokaw, who recently retired.

American Express has private bank operations in the United States and Latin America, as well as in Geneva, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Luxembourg.

Mr. Holmes reports to John A. Ward 3d, who joined the American Express Co. unit in January as chairman and chief executive.

"It looked like an extremely attractive opportunity at a time when the bank was really being restructured and beefed up," Mr. Holmes said.

Until last June, Mr. Holmes oversaw private banking at Bank of America as an executive vice president. He then helped split its private bank into domestic and international units, headed by senior vice presidents William Timoney and Robert Lemos, respectively.

Mr. Holmes stayed at BofA for a transitional period, but had been job hunting. "Strategically I differed from senior management in where I thought the business was going," he said.

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