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Former Merrill chief tapped to head CIT

LONDON (CNNMoney.com) -- Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain has been tapped to lead struggling lender CIT Group.

CIT (CIT, Fortune 500), the small business lender that emerged from bankruptcy in December, announced Sunday that it had chosen Thain to be its chairman and CEO.

John Thain

Thain held the top post at Merrill before it was sold to Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) in September 2008 during the height of the financial crisis, a deal that Thain helped broker.

He left Bank of America in January of last year amid outrage over the deal and bonus controversy as well as reports of lavish spending, including reports that he had spent $1.22 million in early 2008 to redecorate his office at Merrill.

CIT said Thain was the right leader to head the company as it transitions into becoming a "more streamlined commercial lender."

An important lender to small and expanding businesses, CIT was hit hard during the financial crisis, and its collapse late last year left many small firms scrambling to find funds to keep their companies running.

The lender exited bankruptcy fairly quickly and says it is set on getting back into the lending game.

Thain, whose career includes several years at Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) as well as serving as CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, said in a statement that he was pleased to be leading the newly organized CIT.

"Much has been accomplished in recent months to position CIT for renewed success. We will build upon this progress and work even harder to support small and mid-market businesses," he said. To top of page

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