Ricardo Lacerda, Citigroup's top investment banker for Brazil and Latin America, will leave his post within the next three months, a local newspaper reported on Monday.

Lacerda, a former investment banking head of Goldman Sachs in Brazil, will be replaced by three bankers on his team, Fabio Bicudo, Otavio Guazzelli and Jairo Loureiro, Valor Economico reported, citing a bank statement. He quit to pursue other personal and professional projects, Valor quoted the statement as saying.

Calls made by Reuters to Lacerda's office and mobile phone weren't immediately answered.

For months, there has been speculation that Citigroup would be forced to sell its Brazilian unit to raise cash to cover losses stemming from the collapse of U.S. credit markets. Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit dismissed the rumors on June 22, saying the bank is focusing growth in Brazil and other relevant emerging markets.

To be sure, the crisis afflicting Citigroup globally has weighed on its ability to retain talent in Brazil, Valor said. Joao Miranda, head of Citigroup's Brazilian middle-market business, or lending to mid-sized companies, moved to rival Banco Votorantim this year, the newspaper said.

Marcelo Marangon, head of Brazil's corporate banking for Citigroup joined HSBC, while former treasurer Jose Flavio Ramos quit to work for Banco Safra, Valor said.

Valor said Lacerda, a 15-year veteran in investment banking, doesn't have immediate plans to join another shop nor open his own firm.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Derek Caney)