BankAmerica Corp. on Wednesday announced a broad reorganization of its overseas operations, dividing key functions between capital markets and corporate banking executives.
The Charlotte, N.C., banking company said the moves-which included news of a senior executive's pending retirement and two major promotions- underscore its commitment to international banking.
The changes seem to be aimed at untangling an international banking operation forged through the Sept. 30 merger of NationsBank Corp. and BankAmerica, which had distinctly different approaches overseas.
BankAmerica was an established corporate banker, while NationsBank was an upstart active mostly in the newer realm of capital markets. The appointments play to those strengths.
Robert P. Morrow 3d was named managing director for the new international corporate banking group. He had headed the old BankAmerica's corporate banking activities in Asia since 1995.
Duncan Goldie-Morrison was appointed to head global markets. A six-year veteran from the NationsBank side of the company, he has been co-head of global derivatives since last year.
Each of the executives assumed duties that had been handled by Gerald Doherty, who is retiring in March. A 20-year veteran of BankAmerica, he had been head of global markets since 1994 and head of corporate banking for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa since 1996.
Analysts said the company seems determined to pick its spots carefully in the wake of recent setbacks abroad that culminated in the resignation Oct. 20 of president David Coulter. The reorganization could also quell rumors that BankAmerica plans to retrench overseas.
Though BankAmerica chairman and chief executive officer Hugh McColl is "scornful of staying in international business just for glory of it, he's also starting to understand that the globality of BankAmerica is a real strength and something the combined company can build off," said Lawrence Cohn, a banking analyst with Ryan, Beck & Co.
BankAmerica, like other big multinational banks, racked up big losses from its overseas operations last year. In the third quarter it took a $579 million charge on trading activity, much of which came from trading in Russia and other emerging markets.
Under the reorganization, BankAmerica is concentrating on global corporate banking, capital markets and cross border activities such as funds transfers, while downsizing its non-U.S. consumer banking operations and eliminating activities with low earnings.
"The bank will be less romantic about staying in markets where they can't make an adequate return," Mr. Cohn said.
Analysts including Chip Dickson at Salomon Smith Barney, a unit of Citigroup, pointed out that BankAmerica has been steadily reassessing its international operations as part of an ongoing withdrawal from less profitable operations in favor of high-yielding activities.
"The prime focus is on risk profile and earnings," Mr. Dickson said.
Mr. Morrow, who is relocating from Hong Kong to San Francisco in about a month, will manage corporate client relationships around the world. He will report to Michael J. Murray, president of the global corporate and investment banking group.
"The creation of this position underscores Bank of America's commitment to its clients in the international markets and enhances teamwork among our geographic units worldwide," Mr. Murray said in a prepared statement.
Reporting to Mr. Morrow are four BankAmerica veterans:
Alexandra McLeod, who was named head of European, Middle East, and African corporate banking in London, succeeding Mr. Doherty.
Federico Sacasa, who continues as head of Latin American corporate banking in Miami.
Ambi Venkateswaran and Colm McCarthy, who continue to run north Asian and south Asian corporate banking, respectively, from Hong Kong and Singapore.
Mr. Goldie-Morrison's responsibilities include global foreign exchange, non-equity derivative products, international treasury operations and emerging markets trade. He will be based in Chicago and will report to Edward J. Brown 3d, a former NationsBank executive who recently became head of global capital-raising and global markets.
Robert McKnew was named deputy head of global markets, reporting to Mr. Goldie-Morrison.
The bank plans to make additional changes in its international staffing over the next few weeks. Banking sources said the announcement of the reorganization was rushed out earlier than planned on Wednesday, after reports of the changes began circulating within the bank.
BankAmerica is one of the top half dozen U.S. banks with global operations. Before its merger with NationsBank, the bank had more than $26 billion in foreign loans, or over 16% of its total loan portfolio.