Bank of America Corp. last week named a new president for its Chicago operations with a mandate to raise its profile there.

Terry E. Perucca, 56, will take over at yearend from Wilma Smelcer, who is set to resign. Ms. Smelcer, 51, has led Bank of America Chicago since 1998.

In an interview, Mr. Perucca said that as president his main role will be business development, not line management, since most of the businesses report to the Charlotte, N.C., headquarters of the $672 billion-asset banking company.

“My role is more an ombudsman to the market,” he said.

Bank of America has no retail branches in Chicago and no plans to have them, Mr. Perucca said. It operates a number of businesses there, including a private banking division, commercial and corporate banking, and asset management; many of its Chicago operations came from Continental Bank Corp., which it acquired in 1994.

Mr. Perucca will remain president of Banc of America Equity Partners, the company’s private equity investing arm. He said that his primary business role will be as head of this group, which makes direct and indirect equity investments in the United States and in South American, Europe, and Asia.

Banc of America Equity Partners has about $5 billion invested, Mr. Perucca said. Slightly over half of that is invested in “early stage venture capital funds” and approximately $2 billion is invested directly in upstart companies, Mr. Perucca said.

Asked about his ability to balance both jobs, Mr. Perucca said, “If you want to get something done give it to a busy person.”

According to a bank spokeswoman, Ms. Smelcer’s decision to leave the company is unrelated to a cost cutting program in which 10,000 senior and middle management jobs — 10% of the workforce — are to be cut.

Ms. Smelcer “has been talking to executives in Charlotte since spring about leaving,” the spokeswoman said. Bank of America unveiled its cost-cutting plan in August.

Ms. Smelcer was unavailable for comment Friday.


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