May 28 (Reuters) - Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) has hired Brad Aston, a veteran of nearly two decades at Barclays, as the global head of leveraged finance in its capital markets unit, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The appointment underscores the lender's focus on its leveraged finance business in the United States, it said, at a time when private investment firms are challenging the dominance of banks in the industry.

Leveraged loans are targeted at companies looking to do an acquisition, or those that have a high debt load. Private capital firms can be more aggressive in offering such loans, since they are not subjected to the degree of regulation that banks operate under.

Aston, previously the head of industrials and energy leveraged finance at Barclays, will join CIBC in August.

CIBC also said it has hired Goldman Sachs alum Vishal Bhalla as managing director of leveraged finance in capital markets. (Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Nivedita Balu in Toronto; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)