* Mike will double as chief of core unit MUFG Bank
* Current CEO Hirano will become chairman
* Changes effective from April (Adds CEO comments, background)
By Taiga Uranaka
TOKYO, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) said on Wednesday it picked Kanetsugu Mike, the head of its core commercial banking unit, as its next president and CEO as Japan's largest lender accelerates efforts to expand overseas.
Mike will also continue to serve as chief of the commercial banking unit, MUFG Bank, while current CEO Nobuyuki Hirano will become chairman, the company said in a statement. The changes will take place in April.
Joining what is today's MUFG in 1979, Mike, 62, has spent about half of his career outside Japan. He became CEO of MUFG Bank last year after his predecessor resigned suddenly on health grounds.
The company also said Chief Information Officer Hironori Kamezawa will become deputy president.
Hirano, who has led the banking group since 2013, has been credited with growing MUFG in a tightly controlled manner. He expanded the Japanese lender's successful tie-up with Morgan Stanley after MUFG invested $9 billion in the Wall Street bank in 2008. MUFG has a 24 percent stake in Morgan Stanley.
Mike said the two companies' Japanese investment banking joint ventures have made big progress in the M&A advisory and equity finance sectors. "We also want to do new wealth management business in Japan by utilising Morgan Stanley's expertise," he told a news conference.
Mike is taking over the helm of a financial conglomerate with over 300 trillion yen ($2.7 trillion) in assets, after Hirano carried out a major overseas push as many of its western peers pulled back during the global financial crisis a decade ago.
Unlike other Japanese banks, MUFG has retail banking operations overseas.
In addition to Union Bank in the United States, MUFG has been building up a full banking business in Southeast Asia through a string of deals involving local lenders.
In 2013, MUFG bought a 72 percent stake in Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya for $5.3 billion. MUFG also said last year it was seeking a 73.8 percent stake in Indonesia's Bank Danamon .
"Hirano has played a big role in building relationship with management of these partner banks. His successor is required to do the same," J.P. Morgan analyst Rie Nishihara said. (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and John Stonestreet)