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Exclusive-Santander's Matarranz to step down as global wealth chief as unit expands, sources say

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Santander Bank logo

By Andres Gonzalez and Jesús Aguado

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) -Santander's Victor Matarranz is stepping down as global head of wealth management and insurance as the Spanish bank expands the business, two people with knowledge of the plans said on Wednesday.

Santander plans to fold its investment platforms and corporate holdings business into the wealth unit, one of the people said. Javier Garcia-Carranza, who runs the investment activities, will replace Matarranz, the people said.

The wealth and insurance unit - one of the bank's five divisions - oversees 482 billion euros ($523 billion) in assets. In the first quarter, net profit at the unit rose 27% year-on-year to 400 million euros, accounting for about 13% of Santander's group earnings.

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Many banks are seeking to expand activities that manage money for clients in a bid to generate a steady flow of fees and reduce reliance on lending income.

Santander said its asset management market share in Spain expanded in the first quarter, and it also grew its private banking assets.

Matarranz has been at Banco Santander for more than nine years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He is remaining at the bank and will report to Santander CEO Hector Grisi in a new role focused on strategy, one of the sources said.

Matarranz declined to comment.

Spain's biggest bank by market value and assets in December said it said had reached an agreement to buy BNP Paribas' asset management operation in Mexico.

Matarranz, quoted in a statement announcing that deal, said wealth management and insurance was "one of the fastest-growing global businesses" for the bank.

(Reporting by Andres Gonzalez in London and Jesus Aguado in Madrid. Editing by Elisa Martinuzzi and Tommy Reggiori Wilkes, Kirsten Donovan)