Bank of America Corp. said Wednesday that it has hired Parker Knight to lead international syndications.

The move is expected to shore up its global corporate banking unit, which Mr. Knight will join July 12 as managing director of international floating-rate syndications and global project finance.

He joins Bank of America from Union Bank of Switzerland's Warburg Dillon Read unit in New York, where he led loan syndications.

"We're very active internationally, and adding Parker, I believe, will bring us to the next level," said Thomas W. Bunn, head of global debt origination for Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America.

Mr. Bunn said Mr. Knight's chief duty would be to build a presence overseas. Though he will be based in New York, Mr. Knight will supervise Bank of America's London office as well as debt teams in Latin America and Asia.

Mr. Knight, who could not be reached for comment, is to report to Mr. Bunn and Richard Gross, head of global project finance and chief of Asian and Latin American investment banking. Mr. Knight, in effect, succeeds Keith Barnish, who left Bank of America in April to lead a new syndications team at Bear, Stearns & Co.

The decision to bring in Mr. Knight came as a surprise to some. After Mr. Barnish resigned, some loan executives at the banking company had tagged Bank of America's domestic loan origination chief, Arrington Mixon, as a front-runner for the job.

But as the search continued, it became clear that the company needed a high-profile hiring and a person who could focus on international lending.

Bank of America's wholesale division has been criticized by analysts and market participants for its scanty international presence.

Concern about its overseas operation, especially in Europe, also has been growing internally. Bank of America has strong debt teams in Hong Kong and Latin America, but neither NationsBank Corp. nor the old BankAmerica Corp.-which merged last fall to form Bank of America Corp.-ever built a major European shop.

Meanwhile, big U.S. bank lenders, such as Chase Manhattan Corp. and J.P. Morgan & Co., have used their established toeholds in Europe to lead large financings-a business that has boomed since the euro was introduced Jan. 1.

Since the merger was completed nine months ago, Bank of America has been occupied with integrating the domestic operations of its predecessor banks. One loan executive on the team said, "We're just scraping in Europe right now."

But Mr. Bunn said the focus is changing.

"We will fix and correct our U.S. business before we launch into something else," he said. "I think we're there in the U.S. and Asia. We've been working on it for six months. We're all thinking about Europe."

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