John Thain to step down as CIT CEO

Ellen Alemany, a CIT board member, will replace Thain as chief executive in March, while Thain will stay on as chairman.  

John Thain, the chief executive of CIT Group, is retiring from his post at the bank. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday (21 October) that Thain will be leaving the post over the next few months but will stay on as chairman. Ellen Alemany, who is on the bank’s board, will replace him as chief executive.

Thain, who was formerly chief executive of Merrill Lynch, spent the last five years at CIT mostly lending to small and mid-sized business and helping them recover from the financial crisis and improve their financial standing.

He also oversaw CIT’s $3.4 billion acquisition of Los Angeles-based OneWest Bank last year.

“I enjoy fixing things that someone else broke,” Thain told The Journal. “If I had a more benign economic environment and more time, I could have fixed Merrill as well.”

The former Merrill chief executive took up the post at CIT in February 2010, when the bank was still performing poorly due to exposure to subprime mortgages and student lending. Thain has worked to get the bank up on its feet since then. The publicly-traded bank’s share price has risen from about $30 per share at the time to around $50 in recent months.