CORRECTED-CIT Group CEO John Thain to retire next year

Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:53pm EDT
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(Corrects paragraph 1 to remove reference to Ellen Alemany being the former CEO of Merrill Lynch and the NYSE)

Oct 21 (Reuters) - U.S. small-business lender CIT Group Inc said Chief Executive John Thain will retire effective March 31, 2016 and be replaced by Ellen Alemany, a CIT board member.

The company also said it would explore strategic alternatives for its $10 billion commercial air unit and sell its CIT Canada and CIT China businesses to help with its transition to a U.S. commercial bank.

The company said the divestitures would help it simplify its bank-centric business model.

CIT said Thain would remain with the company as chairman and Alemany will be appointed vice chairman in November. (Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)