SAO PAULO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Banco Santander Brasil SA plans to name Chairman Sérgio Rial as chief executive officer, replacing Jesús Zabalza as the head of Brazil's third-largest private-sector commercial bank, according to media reports late on Tuesday.
The online edition of newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, which first reported the move, did not say what Zabalza plans to do next after spending two years at the helm of Santander Brasil. Veja Magazine's Radar column said Zabalza's departure, and his eventual replacement by Rial, were widely expected among market participants.
Rial, a former dealmaker at Bear Stearns Cos and ABN Amro Bank NV, was named Santander Brasil's chairman in February to help spearhead a turnaround at a firm that had long underperformed rivals. Rial left meatpacker Marfrig SA , where he helped cut debt and sell assets, at the start of the year.
Santander Brasil has the lowest profitability indicators and smallest loan book among Brazil's top-four listed banks. Zabalza's efforts to help Santander Brasil expand faster in card processing, financial services and lending to mid-sized companies have bolstered profits, although at a slower pace than required, analysts said.
Santander Brasil declined to comment. Efforts to reach Rial were unsuccessful. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Aluísio Alves; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)