Citigroup Inc. confirmed it hired Wall Street veteran Alberto Cribiore to join its investment-banking division, effective Monday.

Cribiore, who runs a private-equity firm and was Merrill Lynch & Co.'s lead independent director, will become a vice chairman in Citigroup's institutional clients group, which includes the investment bank. It is the latest instance of an outsider taking a high-profile job at Citigroup since Vikram Pandit became chief executive last December.

Ahead of joining Citigroup, Cribiore resigned from Merrill Lynch's board. He will assume a nonexecutive role at the private-equity firm he founded, Brera Capital Partners, Citigroup said.

Cribiore's job at Citigroup will revolve around luring new clients to the New York banking company, which has been struggling with tens of billions of dollars in losses tied to mortgages and other securities that have lost value. He will report to John Havens, who heads the institutional clients division who for months had been trying to recruit Cribiore.

Havens called Cribiore a "distinguished and widely respected leader in global financial services," with a "broad and deep understanding of the global financial marketplace, including investment banking and asset management in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia."

Cribiore could help fill a void left by Michael Klein, who was chairman of the institutional clients business and regarded as the company's top relationship banker. Klein said in July that he was leaving to pursue other opportunities and has been talking about jobs with private-equity firms, but hasn't yet landed anywhere. Cribiore was 62 years old as of last April.

Cribiore, a native of Milan, has a rich Wall Street resume. He joined investment firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice Inc. in 1985 and became co-president. In 1997, he left to start his own buyout shop, Brera Capital. In 2003, he joined Merrill Lynch's board and became lead independent director last year.

"I am proud to be joining Citi and I look forward to working closely with the investment banking division," Cribiore said.

Cribiore led the search committee that picked John Thain, former head of NYSE Euronext, as Merrill's new chief executive last fall following the ouster of Stan O'Neal. O'Neal departed after Merrill took an $8.4 billion hit from the then-deepening credit crunch.

"Given the positive strides that have been made [at Merrill] under John Thain's leadership these past nine months, I feel strongly that my departure comes at an appropriate time," Cribiore added.

Separately, Thain said Merrill is "grateful" for Cribiore's "years of leadership and contributions, including recently serving as interim nonexecutive chairman, and head of the CEO search committee."

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