CIT Group Chief Executive Officer John Thain plans to retire and will be succeeded by board member Ellen R. Alemany as the lender seeks to sell assets to simplify operations.

Thain, 60, will leave the post effective March 31 and remain chairman, the New York-based lender said Wednesday in a statement. Vice Chairman Steven Mnuchin also will step down at the end of March and remain on the board. Controller Carol Hayles will take over as chief financial officer on Nov. 1, according to the statement.

The lender is seeking to narrow its focus after emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. CIT plans to sell its Canada and China businesses and will explore strategic options for its $10 billion Commercial Air business, according to a separate statement. The company owns, finances and manages a fleet of more than 350 commercial aircraft.

"These strategic initiatives will position CIT for long- term success by further simplifying our bank-centric business model as we focus on meeting the financing needs of our U.S. small business and middle market customers," Thain said in the statement.

CIT climbed 1.2 percent to $40.35 in extended trading at 4:19 p.m. in New York.

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