Liam E. McGee, a rising star in BankAmerica Corp., has given up a high-profile assignment as head of California retail banking there to take a much less visible role running support services, a check processing and central purchasing division..

He will be succeeded as head of California retail by one of his chief lieutenants, Barbara J. Desoer, 43, who previously managed BankAmerica's Northern California branch network.

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