CIT Group CFO retires, 4 new directors named

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2009 10:14 AM

CIT Group Inc. on Tuesday said its chief financial officer is retiring, and added it is closer to filling out its new board.

The commercial lender, which emerged from bankruptcy protection on Dec. 10, said CFO Joseph M. Leone will retire April 30. A replacement has not yet been named.

Leone, 56, has been with the company for 25 years. He took over as finance chief in 1995 after serving as executive vice president of one of CIT's units.

CIT will also need to name a new CEO soon, as Chairman and CEO Jeffrey M. Peek is due to retire at the end of the year.

CIT also named four new members to its board, moving closer to the goal identified in a regulatory filing Friday of having a new 13-member board.

The new board members are: Michael J. Embler, 45, formerly chief investment officer of Franklin Mutual Advisers; Arthur B. Newman, 66, a senior managing director of Blackstone Group LP; Daniel A. Ninivaggi, 45, Of Counsel to the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP; and R. Brad Oates, 56, chairman and managing partner of Stone Advisors LP.

These additions bring the board to 11 directors, plus Peek. The new board will include the new CEO, five members from the old board and seven independent directors nominated by CIT's debtholders. The new board will select a successor to Peek, who in mid-October announced his retirement.

CIT, one of the nation's largest lenders to small and mid-sized businesses, was forced into bankruptcy after failing to raise cash to pay off outstanding debt. CIT was also hammered by mounting loan losses as more customers fell behind on repaying loans during the recession. It moved through bankruptcy in just six weeks because its key bondholders had already approved a plan to reorganize the company.

Shares of CIT added 31 cents to $28.54 in morning trading.