By Imani Moise and Sumeet Chatterjee
(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc <C.N> has promoted Jane Fraser to head of its global consumer bank and president, putting her in a position eventually to become the first female chief executive of the U.S. bank.
Fraser is replacing Stephen Bird as head of the consumer business, the bank said in a statement on Thursday, adding Bird is leaving Citi after more than 20 years to pursue an external opportunity.
Citi's current CEO, Michael Corbat, said the move did not suggest an imminent change at the top of the bank.
However, promoting someone into a president role typically means that person is being groomed for the top spot. That position has been vacant since former head of Citi institutional clients group, Jamie Forese, left the bank earlier this year.
"I remain committed to leading our firm in the coming years and look forward to working even more closely with Jane in her new roles," Corbat said in the statement.
Fraser, 52, has been seen as a rising star on Wall Street, and was recently reported to be among the candidates Wells Fargo & Co's <WFC.N> board was considering for its next CEO. That bank settled on another executive.
A 15-years veteran at Citi, who first joined to run client strategy in the investment bank, Fraser had been running the bank's Latin America business, including its Citibanamex division in Mexico, for the past few years.
She ran Citi's private bank and its troubled mortgage business, and is credited internally with helping the bank recover after the financial crisis, when it had to take $45 billion in taxpayer funds to survive.
Before then, Fraser was a McKinsey consultant, and has spent much of her career hopping between countries and regions developing a global approach to business strategy.
She will be succeeded in Latin America by Ernesto Torres Cantu, who had been CEO of Citibanamex.
Bird, the outgoing Citi global consumer business head, was last month reported to be one of the shortlisted external candidates for the role of HSBC Holdings Plc's <HSBA.L> chief executive.
A HSBC spokesman in Hong Kong declined to comment on the move on Friday.
HSBC, which makes more than 80% of its profit in Asia, began a search for a new chief executive in August after ousting John Flint following just 18 months in that role. The bank appointed its global commercial banking unit head Noel Quinn as interim CEO.
HSBC Chairman Mark Tucker said in August that the search for a new chief executive, which will include both internal and external candidates, could take up to a year.
London-headquartered HSBC will report its third-quarterly results on Monday.
Before becoming head of global consumer banking at Citi, Bird was chief executive of the U.S. bank's Asia Pacific business, responsible for all of Citi's consumer and institutional businesses across 17 markets in the region.
Prior to joining Citi in 1998 in Singapore as the bank's Asia Pacific head for operations and technology, Bird - who was also a Citi executive management team member - held senior management positions in GE Capital and British Steel in the U.K.
(Reporting by Imani Moise in New York, Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Christopher Cushing)