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Santander Brasil CEO Sergio Rial to head South America business

(Adds Santander's plans for South America and context, media identifier slug)

By Carolina Mandl

SAO PAULO, April 3 (Reuters) - Banco Santander Brasil SA Chief Executive Sergio Rial will also become the bank's regional head for South America, the Spanish bank said on Wednesday, as it seeks to ramp up growth in its key emerging market region.

The change will see Rial, who has overseen robust growth at Santander's Brazilian unit, assuming additional responsibility over the Andean region, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, the bank said in a statement.

As part of Santander's plans to better integrate its operations, it will seek to turn its Brazilian card processor GetNet into a global business, starting in Mexico and then launching it in the rest of Latin America and Europe.

Santander Brasil became the sole owner of GetNet in December, after buying an outstanding 11.5-percent stake in the firm for 1.43 billion reais. It holds a 14-percent market share in the country, double what it had in 2014.

At the helm of Santander in South America, Rial may be able to better integrate products for the region. South America accounted for 35 percent of the Spanish bank's profit in 2018, with Brazil being responsible for most of that.

A lawyer and economist, Rial became CEO of the Brazilian unit in January 2016 and since then has increased the bank's profitability. Its loan book growth has also outpaced the country's largest lenders, gaining market share especially in its retail business.

Spain's Santander also named on Wednesday new heads for Europe and North America. Gerry Byrne, from Santander Polonia, will be responsible for Europe, while Hector Grisi and Scott Powell will head North America while also being in charge of Mexico and the United States, respectively. All new heads, including Rial, will report to CEO Jose Antonio Alvarez. (Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)