UPDATE 3-Veteran banker John Thain to retire as CIT CEO next year

Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:43pm EDT
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(Adds Thain, analyst comments, details)

By Richa Naidu and Ramkumar Iyer

Oct 21 (Reuters) - CIT Group Inc said Chief Executive Officer John Thain, who was appointed to turn around the commercial lender after its bankruptcy, will retire in March and be replaced by veteran banking executive Ellen Alemany.

Thain, who headed Merrill Lynch before it was sold to Bank of America Corp at the height of the financial crisis, told Reuters his work at CIT is done after a series of asset sales, purchases, and shifts in the way the company funds itself.

"CIT had many things that were broken and needed to be fixed," Thain, 60, said in a telephone interview.

"What's left will be primarily a U.S.-based commercial bank, and that's what Ellen's expertise is," he said.

CIT filed for bankruptcy in late 2009 after losing access to funding in the bond markets during the financial crisis. Since Thain took the reins in February 2010, he has focused on reducing the company's reliance on bond market funding, wiping out more than $30 billion of high-cost debt, and increasing CIT's use of deposit funding.

In August 2015, CIT closed on its purchase of OneWest Bank, which brought the company more deposit funding.

CIT said on Wednesday it would explore strategic alternatives for its $10 billion commercial air unit and sell its Canadian and Chinese businesses to help with its focus on U.S. commercial banking.   Continued...