NEW YORK CITY-CIT Group, which emerged from a pre-packaged bankruptcy this past December, said late Sunday that former Merrill Lynch head John Thain would take the reins as chairman and CEO, effective immediately. In a release, the commercial lender says its board of directors “has tasked Thain to continue CIT’s transition to a more streamlined commercial lender focused on serving the small business and middle market sectors and optimizing the company’s business model.”

Thain replaces CIT board member Peter Tobin, who was named interim CEO in January following the retirement of Jeffrey Peek as chairman and CEO. He comes to CIT as two other key managers, COO Alexander Mason and CFO Joseph Leone, have announced plans to depart the company.

“[Thain] is a well-respected financial services executive and proven leader who is uniquely qualified to lead CIT at this critical stage,” CIT lead director John Ryan says in a statement. “CIT and its customers will benefit enormously from his breadth of experience, industry acumen and deep knowledge of the financial services sector.”

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