Bank of America Merrill Lynch has hired Arshad Ghafur, previously with Nomura Holdings <8604.T>, as the country executive for its Middle East and North Africa unit, the U.S. bank said in a statement on Thursday.

Ghafur, who will start the new role in March 2013, will replace Phil Southwell who left the bank recently following an overhaul of the lender's regional banking operations.

At Nomura, Ghafur was the chief executive for Qatar and the investment banking head the MENA region, responsible for the bank's capital market activities. He joined Nomura from Lehman Brothers after the acquisition of some of that U.S. bank's businesses in 2008 following its dramatic collapse.

(Reporting by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Amran Abocar)