John Thain, chief executive officer of CIT Group, said the logic of selling his company to a larger bank is "obvious," while declining to comment on whether such a deal has been discussed.
"The big banks are awash in deposits and they can't generate attractive assets," Thain said today in a Bloomberg Television interview with Erik Schatzker and Sara Eisen. "We, in all our businesses, are able to generate very high-yielding, attractive assets, so the logic of that is obvious."
Thain, 58, who was named CEO of CIT in 2010 after selling Merrill Lynch & Co. to Bank of America Corp., has been fielding takeover speculation after leading a turnaround at the New York- based lender. CIT, once the biggest independent U.S. commercial lender, emerged from a bankruptcy that left a $2.3 billion government bailout unpaid. Regulators last month lifted sanctions that restricted dividends, buybacks and hiring.
"We're doing very well by ourselves," he said.
Thain led Merrill Lynch as the world's financial system unraveled in 2008 and said today he had to sell the brokerage to save employees and investors. While Merrill has helped buttress earnings at Bank of America, the second-biggest U.S. lender, it would have been better for the brokerage if it could have stayed independent, he said.
A crisis like the one in 2008 could "absolutely" happen again, Thain said. The Dodd-Frank Act hasn't solved the problem of lenders that are "too big to fail," and the biggest firms are now more concentrated, he said.
Speculation about CIT's future revived on May 30 when the Federal Reserve Bank of New York lifted sanctions imposed since 2009. The new freedom and Thain's turnaround of CIT's fortunes since his 2010 arrival make the lender a good fit for a healthy bank with cheaper funding, analysts have said.
CIT rose 0.1 percent to $45.83 at 12:32 p.m. in New York, bringing its gain for 2013 to 19 percent. The firm has a market value of about $9.2 billion and the stock sells for little more than book value, a theoretical measure of what a company would be worth if liquidated.
Founded in 1908, CIT employed more than 3,500 people at the end of 2012, serving customers in more than 30 industries.