Stanford L. Kurland moved a step closer yesterday to the top job at Countrywide Credit Industries Inc.

Angelo Mozilo, 60, its chief executive officer, relinquished the title of CEO at its Countrywide Home Loans to Mr. Kurland. A spokesman said it was the first step in a succession process.

Mr. Kurland, 45, remains president of the unit. He had joined Countrywide in 1979 from the accounting giant Grant Thornton LLP.

He relinquished his job as chief operating officer of Countrywide Home Loans to Carlos M. Garcia, who remains a managing director.

Tuesday's management shuffle also included Mr. Mozilo's taking over the holding company chairmanship from co-founder David S. Loeb, 75.

"It is critical that the company prepare for the future by ensuring a smooth transition of experienced and talented senior management," Mr. Loeb said in a statement.

A spokesman said Mr. Loeb remains president of the holding company and retains most of his duties. He has been working from his home since 1975.

Countrywide, based in Calabasas, Calif., is one of the largest originators and servicers of residential mortgages, and one of the few independent home lenders left. Last month it originated $9 billion of loans; its servicing portfolio was $209 billion at last count.

Mr. Loeb and Mr. Mozilo recently signed five-year contracts with IndyMac Mortgage Holdings, a Pasadena, Calif., real estate investment trust, to continue as chairman and chief executive, respectively.

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